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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 35.25%
Average: 11.48%
Pretty Bad: 4.92%
Total Crap: 2.46%

8 reviews, 74 user ratings

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Pride & Prejudice (2005)
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by EricDSnider

"Well, if we HAD to have another version, this one's pretty good."
4 stars

My, how the marketing for the sumptuous new production of "Pride & Prejudice" fibs! Focus Features describes the film on its Web site as "the first movie version of the story in 65 years," which is blatantly untrue. Clearly they are trying to make us think we haven't seen this story over and over again when really we have.

In fact, this is the third movie version of the story just in the past two years. There was a Bollywood version called "Bride & Prejudice," and another version that retained the title but moved the story to modern-day Utah. There have also been five BBC-produced incarnations (TV movies or mini-series), in 1952, 1958, 1967, 1980 and 1995.

It's the 1995 production that Focus would most like us to forget, of course. That's the one with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, the five-hour mini-series that has made countless women swoon and inspired two Bridget Jones novels and movies. To many, Firth's Mr. Darcy is the epitome of a classical English romantic figure, the standard by which all other suitors must be measured. Many is the man who has been deemed unworthy by a woman for failing to be as dreamy as Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy.

Do not underestimate the importance of that performance! Obviously Focus Features has not, given their vain attempt to make us overlook it. (For the record, a more accurate statement would have been: "The first theatrical film version in 65 years to retain the original title and setting.")

I've never had to watch the Colin Firth version, and I'm no lady, but I can tell you that the new Joe Wright-directed version is splendid, a handsome and romantic retelling of the 1813 Austen novel and a reasonably faithful one, too. If one is willing, one can be utterly swept away by the performances of Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, who play Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy with no apparent fear of being unable to fill previously worn shoes.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, it is set in England at a time when society was at its most prim and when the most essential thing -- indeed, the only reasonable thing -- a woman could do was to get married. Her husband was her life: In "Pride & Prejudice," Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) calls her husband (Donald Sutherland) "Mr. Bennet," yet does so lovingly, not out of coldness or obligation.

The Bennets have five daughters, of which only two, Jane (Rosamund Pike) and Elizabeth, are of marriageable age, but that does not stop the three younger ones from becoming just as excited when a bachelor named Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) moves into the village. Bingley, a smiling, decent fellow, takes an interest in Jane, while Elizabeth and Bingley's friend Mr. Darcy have a conversation and instantly clash. An aristocrat, he finds her middle-class family (and indeed the entire town) beneath him, while she finds his elitism repellant. Which can mean only one thing: By film's end, they will be in each other's arms.

In the meantime, there is an abundance of chaste, respectable romance in the impossibly lush English countryside, which is gorgeously photographed by cinematographer Roman Osin. The beautiful costumes and production design add a flavor of authenticity, too. You could fall in love with the film based solely on its looks.

Ah, but then you'd be missing the very delightful performances and the film's twee, pleasant humor. Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn are a perfectly charming pair of Bennet parents, with Mister bemused by his daughters' man-hungry exuberance and Missus utterly caught up in it. And Judi Dench has a wicked turn as the imperious snob Lady Catherine. She is the sort of character you want to see hit in the face with a pie, though sadly such does not occur in the film.

And what of Elizabeth and Darcy? Matthew MacFadyen seems smoldering and romantic enough, though I highly doubt he will make the ladies weak at the knees the way Colin Firth did, if for no other reason than Firth had five hours to do it while MacFadyen only has two. But he pulls a neat trick, acting-wise: Early on, he is sullen and aloof enough to inspire genuine dislike -- a great risk, considering we are eventually supposed to love him. Yet sure enough, when the time comes for him to profess his love to Elizabeth, his stoic demeanor gives way, slightly but perceptibly, and it is possible to see why Elizabeth might love him in return.

As for Keira Knightley, I confess to having mostly disregarded her in the past, but now I am officially onboard as an admirer. Her Elizabeth is a marvelously likable heroine -- strong, good-natured and vulnerable, with a toothsome smile that is positively bewitching. It is not hard at all to see why Mr. Darcy loves her. When all the obstacles between them are eventually removed, you'd have to be stone dead not to have your heart melt at least a little bit.

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originally posted: 11/17/05 06:52:33
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/24/18 Katie Addicted. Need a fix of P&P every couple of months. Love this adaptation !! 5 stars
3/18/13 Mireya Love this movie! 5 stars
4/06/12 Mrs. Bennet MacFadyen should have been in the better BBC version 5 stars
3/10/11 Lonesome Rhodes Late to this version. It can't make me forget the BBC version. Knightley ain't sexy. 3 stars
3/20/10 JM Keynesy capture the essence of the novel. Keira is exceptional and present what the novel depict. 5 stars
2/19/10 Rita P watch the 1995 version - forget Knightley - ckeck out Ehle. 4 stars
2/17/10 The Calico Critic, Laura Hartness Interesting review! I didn't know Emma Thompson had a hand in the script! Cool! 4 stars
12/16/09 A Girl the first poster is is this dumb downed? 5 stars
10/28/09 Talless I think Darcy is sexyand elizabeth was playing hard too get too much. The movie was great!! 4 stars
10/17/09 glyzashin i love it 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. one of keira knightley's better films...beautiful cinematography! 5 stars
1/19/08 jeanne I was too distracted by how grubby everyone was; Lizzie should NOT have stringy hair! 2 stars
1/01/08 Susan Wonderful movie. Great acting. Keira won my respect from this movie. 5 stars
12/09/07 Keystra Williams Absolutely fanfuckingtastic! 5 stars
5/09/07 David Pollastrini Keira Knightley is hot is hot in this! 3 stars
4/24/07 Luisa It brought tears to my eyes. 4 stars
3/11/07 Roy F. Moore Keira Knightly makes a pretty good Lizzie. 5 stars
1/15/07 quirky By far, a wonderfully refreshing adaptation of the novel. 5 stars
12/14/06 MJ This movie was terrible. No one can ever replace Ehle and FIrth! 1 stars
12/05/06 Bitchflaps Pretty to a fault, a sterile adaptation. Knightly mistakes formality for stiltedness. 2 stars
11/30/06 Jess I loved this movie so much I watch it all the time. Keira is a great actress. 5 stars
10/12/06 Kaleb I didnt understand the movie.....not worth seeing 1 stars
10/02/06 kath Captures the essence of the novel. Keira was great and photography was wonderful! 5 stars
9/27/06 laruja I love you. Most ardently. Please do me the honour of accepting my hand. 5 stars
9/05/06 Julia I hated this awful film. Those who like it don't have the foggiest idea. 1 stars
6/16/06 od absolutely fabulous 5 stars
6/05/06 o.kilinc really worth watching especially after watching the BBC version 5 stars
5/12/06 Annie G An enjoyable adaptation - never really "wowed" me though. 4 stars
5/11/06 anne i love this movie and went to see it 5 times ! 5 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz lovely. can't say enough about it. 5 stars
4/29/06 Olivia Morene This movie shows that some people will find love where they least expect it! 5 stars
4/29/06 maria casal i loved that much this movie, that I rented it, and in the first day I wathed it over 3 tim 5 stars
4/21/06 LOLA Bring back Colin Firth! Other than that, pretty good! 3 stars
4/12/06 Erin Addington Ah Naomi, that could go along with what I read, that Jane Austen died of constipation. 4 stars
4/12/06 Naomi Valentine Dooky? DUH! Nobody goes to the bathroom in Jane Austen novels! 3 stars
4/11/06 The Great Squizzaloon Rosamund Pike is eye candy, but Judi Dench would be more likeable wallowing in her dooky! 3 stars
4/11/06 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne EYE CANDY, but 1st half is ear torture. 2nd half redeems itself A BIT. 3 stars
4/10/06 Haven't read the book but hope it's better Totally unclear on what wonderful deeds hero did for heroine's sisters! 2 stars
3/31/06 Priscilla Postlethwaite But what will Liz do about her aunt-in-law from hell? 3 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar I loved this film. Can we have more please? 5 stars
3/04/06 gary PLEASE, keira knightley -- don't you ever change! 5 stars
3/04/06 Cristyne Vasquez I love Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy; he's far more romantic than Colin Firth 5 stars
3/03/06 bizenya wonderful on every level. 5 stars
3/03/06 Rick Burt Beautifilly filmed,and passionately acted 5 stars
3/03/06 Naomi Valentine Dooky? DUH! Nobody goes to the bathroom in Jane Austen novels! 3 stars
3/03/06 The Great Squizzaloon Rosamund Pike is eye candy, but Judi Dench would be attractiver wallowing in her dooky! 3 stars
3/03/06 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne EYE CANDY, but 1st half is ear torture. 2nd half redeems itself A BIT. 3 stars
3/03/06 Haven't read the book but hope it's better Totally unclear on what wonderful deeds hero did for heroine's sisters! 2 stars
2/28/06 Priscilla Postlethwaite But what will Liz do about her aunt-in-law from hell? 3 stars
2/26/06 Yesim it was wonderful and really romantic 5 stars
2/16/06 Christina awesome movie!!! (especially mr.darcy :)) very well played by Matthew MacFad... and keira) 5 stars
1/25/06 Asina A beautiful movie. Knightley was great. 5 stars
1/23/06 Monika Luy A wonderfully casted romantic movie, not very much JA though. 4 stars
1/23/06 nelly mendel magnificent, beautiful landscapes, romantic. 5 stars
1/05/06 Elisa G Okay, but not brilliant 3 stars
12/24/05 Mike V Waaaaay too melodramatic and precious. 3 stars
12/23/05 katsat MacFadyen pales next to Colin Firth. Butchering of Austen. Knightley too modern, skinny. 3 stars
12/18/05 Emily Popp I have seen the movie 8 times, and I'm not done yet. Need I say more? 5 stars
12/18/05 Aaron Smith Awesome cinematography and solid acting. Knightley a pleasure to watch. 5 stars
12/08/05 deeza Perfection_this is what they call 'chemistry' 5 stars
12/08/05 raewyn loved this movie!!! 5 stars
12/08/05 Kat Stacy Hideous 2 stars
12/04/05 Heather An exquisite movie-I'm buying it the moment it comes out. 5 stars
12/03/05 goldengirl Absolutely fantastic! Has there truely been another romantic movie? 5 stars
12/02/05 Holle I've seen it 4 times; this film is brilliant in its own right, w/ or w/o the book's detail. 5 stars
11/29/05 Melina beautiful cinematic version - captured the essence of Austen's story beautifully! 5 stars
11/28/05 melissa A wonderful movie. Loved everything about it. 5 stars
11/26/05 moorefam221 I've never seen a movie in the theatre 3 times before, but this one is definitely worth it. 5 stars
11/14/05 Sylvia Galimore awesome in it's own way! 5 stars
11/13/05 Asina Absolutely beautiful. LOVED it. 5 stars
11/12/05 bizenya knightley was great. a new take on the classic novel. me likey. 5 stars
10/27/05 Steven Absolutely stunning cinematography. Excellent adaptation of the novel. 5 stars
9/16/05 Vodkabite A sadly dumbed down version of Jane Austin's most popular novel. 2 stars
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  11-Nov-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 28-Feb-2006



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