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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 brianorndorf

"A wonderful surprise"
5 stars

“Pride & Prejudice” gives the Jane Austen material the one thing many other productions fail to include: emotion. A lovely film, wonderfully performed and directed, “Pride” manages to break the ice of the material and envelop the viewer in the warm folds of love and life. Led by a breakthrough performance from Keira Knightley, the film is a delight. If every costume drama was this good, the world (and art-houses) would be a much better place.

The year is 1797, and the Bennet family, including Mr. (Donald Sutherland) and Mrs. (Brenda Blethyn), are looking to marry off their daughters Lydia (Jena Malone), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Mary (Talulah Riley), Kitty (Carey Mulligan), and Jane (a radiant Rosamund Pike) to any man of wealth and good standing. Hopes for a decent match come into their lives with the arrivals of Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) and Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfayden, giving the difficult role a good shot), but Darcy’s far too snobbish and cold to the girls, with the plain and outspoken Elizabeth dismissing him immediately. Yet, over the course of a year, as the sisters embark on their separate adventures in love and marriage, Darcy continually finds himself in Elizabeth’s company, forcing the two to confront powerful feelings inside, while those around the couple (including Judi Dench) sharpen their knives in disapproval.

The opening shot of “Pride & Prejudice” is not one of traditional costume drama primping, judging, or despair. Instead, a single camera captures an English countryside morning during the opening titles, complete with lush greenery, a flurry of singing birds and a yawning new sun. This shot establishes right away that director Joe Wright has inventive ideas for this oft-told tale, and that the audience is about to embark on a real cinematic treat.

What makes “Pride” such an enduring work from author Jane Austen (one of the most adapted novels to television and the big screen in history) is the yearning for romance. Austen wrote of manners and disapproving personas, but underneath the period trappings of honor and class struggle lie the quivering heart of a romantic. Filmmakers have come from near and far to adapt her novels, yet they all seem to focus on the rigidness of the era, and the inability for anyone to express themselves freely. What can make Austen come alive on the screen is when a filmmaker can dig deeper and extract the living, breathings emotions that are always pulsing underneath the stiff exteriors. It worked for Emma Thompson and Ang Lee in their sparkling 1995 feature, “Sense & Sensibility,” and now it works for Joe Wright and his sumptuous “Pride & Prejudice.”

In his big screen directing debut, Wright isn’t concerned with packing the entire “Pride” plot into one tidy film. Screenwriter Deborah Moggach’s version (with a polish by Emma Thompson) of the story is messy, with heaps of the original tale thrown to the wind in an effort to pare down the tale to the essentials. Wright is going for the emotional curve of Elizabeth’s journey, emphasizing the confused feelings about her true love, and her frustrations with the restrictions in her life. The events in the film come and go with alarming speed, which should annoy the purists, but it never poisons the flow of the picture. Wright clings so tightly to Elizabeth’s soul-searching, often through interesting and intimate camera work, that he manages to freshen the material, and make this considerably aged text feel young again. There’s a celebration of love in “Pride” that draws the viewer right in, which similar examples of the genre couldn’t always accomplish.

As Elizabeth, Keira Knightley gives what can only be described as a revelatory performance. While it doesn’t break her out of the corset mode she’s accustomed to, Knightley makes Elizabeth into a heartfelt, lived in character. Wright loves Knightley’s face, and, by often simply training his camera on her, Knightley is allowed to make the role a fascinatingly introspective one, with Elizabeth often stifling her true feelings in favor of prepared ones. Knightley is marvelous in “Pride,” giving a full-bodied reading of Austen’s heroine, and finding those crucial moments of doubt in her performance that connect the film’s lengthy story together. In fact, the whole cast brings a lovely elegance and needed passion to their roles, which is exactly what this material deserves.

“Pride & Prejudice” has worked its way into so many incarnations, that the prospect of another trip to Darcyville might not seem appetizing to many. Wright and his cast and crew have met the challenge and delivered a film that should please fans, but thrill those who miss a little heart to go along with their tea and disapproval.

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originally posted: 11/11/05 16:34:45
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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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