Pride & Prejudice
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One of the greatest love stories of all time, Pride & Prejudice, comes to the screen in a glorious new adaptation starring Keira Knightley. When Elizabeth Bennett (Knightley) meets the handsome Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), she believes he is the last man on earth she could ever marry. But as their lives become intertwined in an unexpected adventure, she finds herself captivated by the very person she swore to loathe for all eternity. Based on the beloved masterpiece by Jane Austen, it is the classic tale of love and misunderstanding that sparkles with romance, wit and emotional force. Critics are calling it "Exhilarating. A joy from start to finish" (Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times).
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The storyline is familiar to Jane Austen fans. The middle-class Bennet family, including its five eligible daughters and a scheming mother anxious to marry them off, learns that the wealthy Mr. Bingley will visit their small English village. They meet Mr. Bingley at a village dance, where he is attracted to the beautiful and kind but reserved Jane Bennet. Jane's spirited and headstrong sister Elizabeth is less impressed with Mr. Bingley's seemingly haughty friend Mr. Darcy. Her disdain for his manners and his prejudice against Jane and against a militia officer whom she favors, will cause Elizabeth to angrily reject his surprise offer of marriage. However, Elizabeth learns she may have been wrong about Mr. Darcy. His generous efforts on behalf of Jane and of Elizabeth's eloped youngest sister will earn him a second chance.
Keira Knightley is perfectly cast as the young and impertinent Elizabeth. Matthew MacFadyen is very effective as the painfully shy and reserved Mr. Darcy. Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn are a sympathetic Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. The interaction of the Bennet sisters, including Rosamund Pike as Jane and Jena Malone as youngest sister Lydia, is authentic and by turns touching and hilarious. Judi Dench personifies the "dragon" Lady Catherine DeBurgh.
Adapting Pride and Prejudice to a two hour movie format means seriously compressing a treasured storyline. Under Director Joe Wright's sure hand, the movie steps briskly through the plot, keeping a tight focus on Elizabeth Bennet and her developing relationship with Mr. Darcy. Among the key scenes: Elizabeth's chance encounter with Mr. Darcy at Pemberly; Mr. Bingley's proposal to Jane, reworked to bring out the humor and to make explicit Mr. Darcy's role; and Mr. Darcy's second proposal to Elizabeth. The latter features a long atmospheric tracking shot as Mr. Darcy crosses a field at dawn to meet a surprised Elizabeth. The next-to-last scene, in which Elizabeth requests permission to marry from her father, brings out the best in two very good actors.
"Pride and Prejudice" is very highly recommended to fans of Jane Austen. The Collectors Edition DVD Set includes a music score CD, production notes, some excellent background features, and Joe Wright's fascinating director's commentary.