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PRIDE & PREJUDICE (PG) (2005)

Focus Features

Official Site

Director: Joe Wright

Producers: Eric Fellner, Paul Webster

Written by: Jane Austen (duh), Deborah Moggach (screenplay)

Cast: Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn, Matthew McFayden

Rating:


So who wants a little background on Jane Austen? Well too bad, here it is. She wrote as a close outsider to upper class society, as a 40-something single woman. Guess what? In her days, the majority of her readers were men. Not so manly back then, were we? But seriously, Jane Austen wrote romantic comedies, so even though this is something of a chick flick, it was originally meant for men. Nowadays, with literacy widespread between both sexes (if you want to call our current skills with English literacy), Jane Austen is now associated with feminine tastes. Also, she wrote around the beginning of the 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution touched the uber-wealthy manors and those nearby. Thus, the relationships and romances are idyllic and unconcerned with a cataclysmic world (there was something called the Terror that just happened in France). So leave your politics at the door when you go watch a bunch of rich and wannabe rich people have troubles with the affairs of the heart.

“Do you dance?”

“Not if I can help it.”

What a ladykiller! No wonder Lizzie couldn’t resist the icy charms of the well-dressed Mr. Darcy. Makes you wonder if she melted his cold heart with a warm island song or cooled his hot heart with a fresh island song.

It must be fun to pick up a book, blow the dust off of it, and make it a film, at least from the screenwriter’s point of view. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I have what it takes to read a book and turn it into a shorter version of itself, in case any bigwigs in Hollywood need someone to do that. But it’s a good exercise in filmmaking nonetheless, challenging trades-people with elegant sets, tailors with old-school costumes, and actors with archaic language. A little like Shakespeare, but less so. On the plus side, Shakespeare at least made common use of first names. You really get tired hearing people say Mr. and Mrs. all the time (even between spouses).

But once you get past the Austentatiousness (hahaha!) of this movie, and settle back into your fate of watching a chick flick, it’s pretty good. Like I said earlier, it’s a romantic comedy, and if you decipher their strange language, the dialogue can be pretty funny. And guess what: Satire! I love my satire and so should you. Seeing Mrs. Bennet run around with only one thought in her head got pretty funny. If you had a mother who constantly tried to marry you off to some well-to-do gentleman, would you be flattered or annoyed? Well, back in the day that’s what mothers did, apparently. I’m not saying the movie was peppered with riotous laughter, but it was funny. However, like every romantic comedy, the real material of the story is its heart. It’s a story about love, and love isn’t easy to put on a screen (much harder than sex), so that’s why you get yourself some good actors. Donald Sutherland apparently really cares about Keira Knightley, in a very platonic and heartfelt way. So it’s got the funnies, it’s got the luvvies, and everyone seems to be from 1810. Sounds like Jane Austen to me.

If you’re reading this review, you either love Jane Austen or you’re Austen-curious. If you fit into either of those categories, go see this movie. It may not be the best cinematic Jane Austen experience, but it’s plenty good to warrant 8 bucks and 2 hours. Hell, it could warrant 20 bucks if you’ve got a date that wants some Pride and Prejudice. Willingness to see a chick flick might score you some points (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more...).

—Duncan Wright

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



none now
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