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8 reviews, 74 user ratings

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Pride & Prejudice (2005)
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by Jay Seaver

"It holds up and then some."
4 stars

There's just too much "Pride & Prejudice" around. That modernized, transcontinental version with Aishwarya Rai was just in theaters, what, six months ago? One of my former roommates left behind a DVD of an A&E mini-series that can't be too many years old. The IMDB shows a few others. I've got no particular issue with remakes and new adaptations per se, but does it really need to be done more than once or twice a generation?

Ah, well. At least this is a nice iteration of the story. That story, of course, is that the five Bennet sisters need to find husbands, but can't afford much of a dowry. New neighbors and their wealthy friend may provide an answer for oldest sisters Jane (Rosamund Pike) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), but there's also the chance of intrigue and heartbreak. Jane is quickly taken with one Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods), and he seems to reciprocate, while a more antagonistic chemistry appears between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Bingley's dour friend. In the meantime, a distant cousin arrives looking for a wife, as does an old friend of Darcy's - though Darcy is far from pleased to see him.

If I had to guess what made this story so appealing that it has been adapted so many times since Jane Austen first wrote it, I would guess that it's how the Bennet sisters collectively present all the various traits a young girl may find within herself in a more or less positive way: Elizabeth is highly intelligent and independent-minded. Jane is a romantic, overflowing with love to give to the right person. Lydia and Kitty are excitable, impulsive, and boy-crazy, while Mary is awkward and unsure of where her strength will lie, though confident she'll have one. It's a story that can hook young women early, with the strong craft needed to stay appealing after the teen years. Keira Knightley's protagonist is strong-willed and independent enough to not come across as too passive for a modern audience to identify with but still a believable product of her time.

Screenwriter Deborah Moggach and director Joe Wright pace things pretty well. It's an adaptation of a novel with a whole bunch of characters, but manages to spread things out so that almost everyone makes a solid impression. I'm not sure exactly why you need both Lydia and Kitty Bennet, but the book's got five sisters, so... The various threads connect well enough, although the movie does at times feel rather episodic, occasionally making little jumps in time and location that sometimes seems anything but the most reasonable course of action. Then again, it may have seemed reasonable two hundred years ago.

The trick, I think, is striking the right balance between ritual and romance. The courtship process may sometimes seem devoid of passion, but it also lacks lies, pretending to something you're not, or uncertainty as to what the next step should be; it's like the grand, screen-filling dances scattered throughout the film, engaging despite how precisely choreographed they are. Still, the story is about matches that get made for reasons other than expediency - the quick attraction between Bingley and Jane and the more reluctant, negotiated respect that forms between Darcy and Elizabeth. Their mating game has rules, but they are rules where one can win as well as lose.

The cast is agreeable. Keira Knightley's Elizabeth could very easily be a teenager in today's world, smart enough to recognize the world's unfairness but not nearly experienced enough for that sort of cynicism to have made a permanent home in her heart and frightened off any romantic notions she may have. Jane, meanwhile, is made pleasant and admirable by Rosamund Pike despite not being as ambitious or modern as her sister. MacFadyen is handsome yet grumpy as Darcy, while Simon Woods has an easy, laid-back charisma as Bingley. Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn give good support as the Bennet parents - Sutherland is just a big, slobby hulk of a guy who would refuse his daughters nothing if he had anything to give, while Blethyn makes Mrs. Bennet the type who must run a household with specific goals. Also having very specific ideas is Dame Judi Dench as a rather imperious noble who can't quite see the worth of the Bennet girls beyond their humble station.

"Pride & Prejudice" is an oft-told story, but for good reason: It holds up better than a lot of other two-hundred-year-old novels about young women. Stick a cast this good in it, and you're in business.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12759&reviewer=371
originally posted: 12/19/05 13:40:54
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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
3/17/13 Mireya Love this movie! 5 stars
4/05/12 Mrs. Bennet MacFadyen should have been in the better BBC version 5 stars
3/09/11 Lonesome Rhodes Late to this version. It can't make me forget the BBC version. Knightley ain't sexy. 3 stars
3/19/10 JM Keynesy capture the essence of the novel. Keira is exceptional and present what the novel depict. 5 stars
2/18/10 Rita P watch the 1995 version - forget Knightley - ckeck out Ehle. 4 stars
2/16/10 The Calico Critic, Laura Hartness Interesting review! I didn't know Emma Thompson had a hand in the script! Cool! 4 stars
12/15/09 A Girl the first poster is wrong...how is this dumb downed? 5 stars
10/27/09 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
1/09/09 Anonymous. one of keira knightley's better films...beautiful cinematography! 5 stars
1/18/08 jeanne I was too distracted by how grubby everyone was; Lizzie should NOT have stringy hair! 2 stars
12/31/07 Susan Wonderful movie. Great acting. Keira won my respect from this movie. 5 stars
12/08/07 Keystra Williams Absolutely fanfuckingtastic! 5 stars
5/08/07 David Pollastrini Keira Knightley is hot is hot in this! 3 stars
4/23/07 Luisa It brought tears to my eyes. 4 stars
3/10/07 Roy F. Moore Keira Knightly makes a pretty good Lizzie. 5 stars
1/14/07 quirky By far, a wonderfully refreshing adaptation of the novel. 5 stars
12/13/06 MJ This movie was terrible. No one can ever replace Ehle and FIrth! 1 stars
12/04/06 Bitchflaps Pretty to a fault, a sterile adaptation. Knightly mistakes formality for stiltedness. 2 stars
11/29/06 Jess I loved this movie so much I watch it all the time. Keira is a great actress. 5 stars
10/11/06 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
9/04/06 Julia I hated this awful film. Those who like it don't have the foggiest idea. 1 stars
6/15/06 od absolutely fabulous 5 stars
6/04/06 o.kilinc really worth watching especially after watching the BBC version 5 stars
5/11/06 Annie G An enjoyable adaptation - never really "wowed" me though. 4 stars
5/10/06 anne i love this movie and went to see it 5 times ! 5 stars
5/02/06 Ashley Hinz lovely. can't say enough about it. 5 stars
4/28/06 Olivia Morene This movie shows that some people will find love where they least expect it! 5 stars
4/28/06 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
4/20/06 LOLA Bring back Colin Firth! Other than that, pretty good! 3 stars
4/11/06 Erin Addington Ah Naomi, that could go along with what I read, that Jane Austen died of constipation. 4 stars
4/11/06 Naomi Valentine Dooky? DUH! Nobody goes to the bathroom in Jane Austen novels! 3 stars
4/10/06 The Great Squizzaloon Rosamund Pike is eye candy, but Judi Dench would be more likeable wallowing in her dooky! 3 stars
4/10/06 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne EYE CANDY, but 1st half is ear torture. 2nd half redeems itself A BIT. 3 stars
4/09/06 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
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar I loved this film. Can we have more please? 5 stars
3/03/06 gary PLEASE, keira knightley -- don't you ever change! 5 stars
3/03/06 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
3/02/06 Rick Burt Beautifilly filmed,and passionately acted 5 stars
3/02/06 Naomi Valentine Dooky? DUH! Nobody goes to the bathroom in Jane Austen novels! 3 stars
3/02/06 The Great Squizzaloon Rosamund Pike is eye candy, but Judi Dench would be attractiver wallowing in her dooky! 3 stars
3/02/06 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne EYE CANDY, but 1st half is ear torture. 2nd half redeems itself A BIT. 3 stars
3/02/06 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
2/25/06 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
1/22/06 nelly mendel magnificent, beautiful landscapes, romantic. 5 stars
1/04/06 Elisa G Okay, but not brilliant 3 stars
12/23/05 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
12/17/05 Emily Popp I have seen the movie 8 times, and I'm not done yet. Need I say more? 5 stars
12/17/05 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
12/07/05 Kat Stacy Hideous 2 stars
12/03/05 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
12/01/05 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
11/28/05 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
11/25/05 moorefam221 I've never seen a movie in the theatre 3 times before, but this one is definitely worth it. 5 stars
11/13/05 Sylvia Galimore awesome in it's own way! 5 stars
11/13/05 Asina Absolutely beautiful. LOVED it. 5 stars
11/11/05 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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