Pride and Prejudice: a review by Margaret Pomeranz (2005)

Pride and Prejudice

In a rustic corner of England at the end of the 18th Century, Mrs Bennet hears exciting news. A single and wealthy young man has moved into the nearby manor at Netherfield Park. With five daughters and no fortune, she makes it her mission that he should marry one of them.

Margaret: **** David: **** 1/2

The question a few people are asking, including myself, is do we really need another version of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE after the huge success of the series which screened here on the ABC.

It’s interesting to discover that there actually hasn’t been a big screen version of this classic story since Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson starred 65 years ago.

This new film has Keira Knightley as the feisty Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew MacFadyen as her romantic nemesis Mr Darcy

This is the story of a provincial family of five daughters, father Donald Sutherland and mother, Brenda Blethyn are anxious to marry them off to wealthy men.

Because their home is entailed to a distant cousin of the family, Mr Collins, (Tom Hollander) who thinks it his duty to marry one of the daughters and Elizabeth is his choice.

The Bennett household is aflutter when the wealthy Mr. Bingley, (Simon Woods) moves into the neighbourhood. Mrs. Bennett thinks him perfect for her oldest daughter Jane, (Rosamund Pike).

Jane Austin’s slightly acerbic view of the pretentions and snobbery of her class in early 19th century England has been well and truly grounded by British director Joe Wright.

This is no pretty pretty version, ducks and geese fly as Elizabeth strides around the countryside in practical outfits, muddying her skirts.

Casting actors that are close to the age of the characters brings a strange understanding of Darcy, who is vulnerable and sweet as played by MacFadyen.

Imagine saying that about Darcy? And Mrs Bennett’s character has been softened slightly as well.

At first I resisted Joe Wright’s almost intrusive visual style, but I found myself drawn into this familiar, much-loved story and liking the differences.

Further comments


DAVID STRATTON: Yes, I went to this without much expectations at all because, you know, I felt that I knew this story so well.


DAVID STRATTON: What new could be brought to it.

MARGARET POMERANZ: It's, sort of like, Colin Firth is the definitive Darcy.

DAVID STRATTON: Yes. Darcy is such a strange character, I'd never warmed to him, and yet as Matthew McFadyen plays him, I think he is very good, and Keira Knightley, I think, is wonderful in this.

MARGARET POMERANZ: Yes, she's lovely, isn't she?

DAVID STRATTON: I think for a first cinema feature, because Joe Wright has worked in British television but this is the first film he has directed, I think it's a remarkable achievement. I loved the cinematography. I think it's beautifully choreographed. I mean, the opening sequence, going across that farmyard, into the house, around the house and so forth.


DAVID STRATTON: Picking up all the characters is just beautifully done. The ballroom scene is fantastically well shot, too.

MARGARET POMERANZ: It is. But there are some close ups that I found really, I was going back from in the early scenes.


MARGARET POMERANZ: And I did get used to it. But I loved the changes, because Bingley is a bit of a dork in this and he's always been this, sort of like, upstanding, nice guy.


MARGARET POMERANZ: I just liked the tweaks that they have made to it, that made it very, very accessible and real, somehow.

DAVID STRATTON: I think it's a fine adaptation. Brenda Blethyn is not my favorite actress, but she's really good in this. I think on just about every level it succeeds really well. I'm giving it four and a half.

MARGARET POMERANZ: Oh, I feel a bit mean only giving it four.