topfivefilms.com Tuesday 27th July 2021
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Pride & Prejudice (U)
Directed by: Joe Wright
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Well, you know what they say: you wait ages for a good film to come along and then two arrive at once. That is certainly the case at the moment, with Pride & Prejudice coming hot on the heels of the impressive Crash. Most people probably know the story of Pride & Prejudice by now, for if you haven't read the book (reportedly one of the best ever written), you've almost certainly seen a previous adaptation.

The Knightley and I share a loving gaze. Shame they cut me out...
The Knightley and I share a loving gaze. Shame they cut me out...

As a consequence, you probably think you have a fairly good idea of what this British costume drama is like, and you'd be right. It does exactly what it says on the tin, but it does it very well indeed.

Really, really, ridiculously good-looking English rose Keira Knightley wears the starring trousers as Lizzie Bennet, one of five Bennet sisters who are desperate to be married off to rich young gentlemen. Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day) plays the eldest sister and local thespian Brenda Blethyn takes up parenting duties alongside mutton-chop-sporting Donald Sutherland. It seems a bit odd watching a period piece like this without Emma Thompson popping up on screen, but Judy Dench makes her customary appearance as a wretched old battleaxe, which goes to show some English traditions are still being observed.

The members of this varied cast give performances that are every bit as good as you would expect, which go a long way towards making this film very watchable. However, even more credit has to go the screenwriters, who have done a marvellous job of adapting Austen's novel for the modern day audience. They have successfully married the storyline and the old-fashioned dialogue with an airy, more relaxed attitude, which is quite refreshing to see when compared to other attempts at the genre, in which the characters walk and talk as though they have large sticks up their backsides. Credit should also go to the director, Joe Wright, who has managed to introduce a real element of humour into the story, largely with the addition of carefully timed pauses or inappropriate laughs from the characters themselves.

It's hard not to be reminded of Ang Lee's superb adaptation of Sense and Sensibility when watching this film, especially as Wright has made use of the same cinematography on the external countryside shots. For example, there are plenty of shots of the Knightley wandering around rural hillsides with almost all of the colour drained out of the frame, as was so memorably done by Lee ten years ago.

However, Pride & Prejudice doesn't take itself as seriously as Sense and Sensibility, which is both a good and a bad thing, depending on your point of view. The result might not be as faithful and authentic as it could have been, but for my money it's more entertaining for it and well worth watching. I'm pleased to say the finished product is thoroughly enjoyable – definitely one for the ladies, and for the gents, well, did I mention Keira Knightley's in it?

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Length: 127 minutes
Certificate: U
Official Site: http://java.europe.yahoo.com/uk/uip/prideandprejudice/
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414387/
Release Date: 16th September 2005

Top Five Rating: 80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0% (80.0%)
User Rating: 78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0%78.0% (78.0%)

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