Pride & Prejudice Review
If the English studios can do one thing exceptionally well, it's we can be relied on to make period dramas, possibly because we know the subject very well. Thankfully, we don't see Bruckheimer remaking these literary classics, otherwise this would be a tale of a pimp named D'arci looking for the only 'ho to make him lots of money, gunning down every would-be pimp in his bloody path until Lil' Liz sleeps with him. It would of course, be renamed Pride and Extreme Prejudice and feature a rap soundtrack. Indeed, we should welcome these small mercies, where Hollywood doesn't make period dramas.For those who don't know the tale, it revolves around Mrs. Bennett (Blethyn) and her five daughters, whom she's eager to marry off, which in turn will make the family protected against possible destitution - if Mr. Bennett (Sutherland) dies, the estate will fall to a certain cousin, Mr Collins. Jane (Pike) the eldest, falls for Mr. Bingley, a well to do fellow while Elizabeth (Knightley) is intrigued with Mr. Darcy, content to exchange barbs and quips with him and whoever else crosses her path. However, when Mr. Bingley effectively gives Jane the cold shoulder for no apparent reason, fate brings Elizabeth and Darcy into many meetings, which soon shows that the adage of opposites attract is incredibly apt, as the story follows their encounters and bizarre flirtations.
If I have anything to rant about at this movie, it is the all to common practice that we have to have an American actor in an English movie. Why? Well I guess, yet again, to sell it overseas and in fairness, it's a Canadian actor in Donald Sutherland rather than an American - but think about it, Notting Hill - Julia Roberts, Four Weddings - Andie McDowell, The Great Escape - Steve McQueen, the list is quite long indeed. Even Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair, ye gads, when will it end? Maybe I will never see the need to have a token American in a very British movie, but I guess that's indicative of an American audience that needs style over substance I suppose - basically anything to get them to part with $10 to watch it at a cinema.
I digress anyway. What we have here is a very entertaining movie, but I would also feel that the script isn't quite the same as Austen wrote way back in the day. It seems slightly diluted, in that I feel that it keeps some of the phrasing correct and at other times, it almost feels updated for accessibility. I can't say I've ever read Austen, I'm more a fan of blood and gore in my literature than period dramas, but it wasn't quite as “Ye Olde Worlde” than I was expecting, although I would note that the dialogue is quite lengthy and indeed, some is said a fair rate, so if you're prone to miss dialogue, you may well struggle here. Acting is perfectly fine, with Knightley giving her best performance here than any other movie (although, truth be known, my other favourite turn of hers is in “The Hole”, but then I like a good psychological thriller). I'm not convinced it is Oscar worthy - one couldn't in clear conscience suggest this is as good a showing as last years winner (Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby), but it is a fine performance, neither over confident nor scene stealing either. I couldn't for the life of me think where I'd seen Matthew Macfayden, but while discussing this movie at work, someone mentioned he was in Spooks, which made me realise from whence it was (although in fairness I've only watched Season 1). Even Judi Dench makes an appearance, which while I have no problem with it, I did begin to wonder if she's going to appear in every English movie in some form or other. Donald Sutherland, no matter my reservation on the token nature of said roles, was a piece of inspired casting, as although I'd not have imagined him in this type of movie (he will always be Oddball), I can't think of anyone else in the role. Brenda Blethyn is great fun as the mother who frets over every single thing, as well as being very manipulative over matters of the heart. It's also good to see Rosamund Pike in a movie again, I don't think I've seen her in anything since that rather terrible 007 movie. While we're on the subject of actors, keep an eye out for Alan Cumming, in an uncredited cameo.
So, is this a typical chick flick? Well, I suppose so, it being a love story, there's no guns, violence, blood, gore or swearing - so on that basis it probably fits that cliché. However, if you do love a good movie, which moves at a good pace, has a nice streak of humour to it (not laugh out loud funny) and has always got Ms. Knightley and Ms. Pike as eye candy, should your attention stray, then it's well worth purchasing, even if only to make a good impression with any males better halves.