This "Pride" does Austen Proud (USA Today) (Nov 2005)


This 'Pride' does Austen proud

Who would have guessed that the world needed another remake of Pride and Prejudice? Yet despite multiple previous incarnations and the cries of protest from diehard Colin Firth fans, this Pride & Prejudice is a stellar adaptation, bewitching the viewer completely and incandescently with an exquisite blend of emotion and wit.

Though some threads of Jane Austen's intricate 1813 novel had to be excised to winnow the story down to a two-hour movie, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Deborah Moggach extract the essence of Austen's clever dialogue, fashioning a supremely entertaining saga of amorous adventures.

What emerges on screen feels contemporary while preserving the nature of the character study. Pride & Prejudice's transcendent love story will captivate viewers — even diehard Austenites.

Wry, beguiling and lushly romantic, the film is gorgeously shot, with some of England's most dazzling estates doubling for the novel's Pemberley and Netherfield Park manses. The sumptuous musical score intensifies the film's vitality.


Keira Knightley's spirited Lizzie Bennet is a delight, but the movie belongs to dark-haired, blue-eyed Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Mr. Darcy, one of literature's great romantic heroes.

Taking on a role that was powerfully played by Laurence Olivier in 1940 and indelibly re-enacted by Firth a decade ago had to be daunting. But Macfadyen manages to make us swoon with his more boyish, vulnerable version of Darcy. Unlike Firth's supremely confident portrayal, Macfadyen seems endearingly awkward. And Knightley and Macfadyen have chemistry.

Donald Sutherland as the remote and sardonic Mr. Bennet and Brenda Blethyn as the nattering, marriage-obsessed Mrs. Bennet are both superb as the beleaguered parents of five daughters.

Knightley imbues Austen's beloved heroine with just the right blend of humor, intensity and intelligence. Rosamunde Pike, who plays her gentle sister Jane, is also winning. Elizabeth and Jane fall for wealthy, handsome men (Darcy and Mr. Bingley), but the path of true love is anything but smooth.

Judi Dench is aptly imperious as Lady Catherine de Bourg, the benefactress of the Bennets' cousin, Mr. Collins, and an impediment to Lizzie's liaison with Darcy. One of the movie's happiest surprises is Tom Hollander as Collins, a groveling sycophant to Lady Catherine and hilarious in his bungling attempts to woo Lizzie.

This production of Pride & Prejudice avoids any suggestion of pretension or stodginess. Rather, it's subtly sexy. The climactic scene in which a disheveled Macfadyen emerges from the misty dawn, desperately seeking Lizzie, is rich with sexual yearning.

A PG romance rarely feels this satisfying.