Pride & Prejudice

on November 23, 2005 by Susan Green
Jane Austen concocted literary heroines well ahead of their time, albeit none so independent that the institution of marriage is ever truly challenged. "Pride & Prejudice" gives the ampersand-free 1813 novel something it hardly needs: extra romanticism. The tale is already besotted; putting glorious sunsets behind shots of Lizzie Bennet (Keira Knightley, flashing toothy smiles) and Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen, whose smolder can't match that of Colin Firth in the 1995 TV version) seems like overkill.

Luckily, such schmaltz doesn't quite eclipse the book's critique of British class snobbery and male dominance. Accordingly, Lizzie's quick wit makes Darcy dizzy. And her gentle father (Donald Sutherland) is no match for his wife (a shrill Brenda Blethyn), obsessed with finding husbands for their five daughters (including Rosamund Pike and Jena Malone). While Dame Judi Dench is memorably manipulative as Lady de Bourg, director Joe Wright's handsome, busy production should have been less of a sentimental journey. Starring Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Matthew MacFadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Judi Dench, Simon Woods and Tom Hollander. Directed by Joe Wright. Written by Deborah Moggach. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster. A Focus release. Comedy/Drama. Rated PG for some mild thematic elements. Running time: 135 min

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