Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Keira Knightley……….Elizabeth Bennet
Talulah Riley……….Mary Bennet
Rosamund Pike……….Jane Bennet
Jena Malone……….Lydia Bennet
Carey Mulligan……….Kitty Bennet
Donald Sutherland……….Mr. Bennet
Brenda Blethyn……….Mrs. Bennet
Claudie Blakley……….Charlotte Lucas
Sylvester Morand……….Sir William Lucas
Simon Woods……….Mr. Bingley
Kelly Reilly……….Caroline Bingley
Matthew MacFadyen……….Mr. Darcy
Pip Torrens……….Netherfield Butler
Janet Whiteside……….Mrs. Hill
Jane Austen has had a career year in 2005. First her most renowned work, Pride & Prejudice is adapted into the Bollywood spectacular Bride & Prejudice. And now as the year winds down her greatest work is redone properly with Pride & Prejudice.
The film is a love story between Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) and Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley). Set in late 1700s England, the story begins one summer when Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) moves to the countryside. Accompanied by some family as well as Mr. Darcy, love seems to be in the air for the folks around them.
For the Bennet family, it seems, its an especially large proposition as the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn): Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Mary (Talulah Riley), Jane (Rosamund Pike), Lydia (Jena Malone) and Kitty (Carey Mulligan). Wanting husbands to keep their house from falling into the hands of a distant cousin, Pride & Prejudice follows Elizabeth and her family through the ups and downs of love and courtship. While the book has previously been adapted as a movie and a BBC television series, it’s still a great story when provided quality directing and quality acting. Pride & Prejudice has both of those in mass quantities.
Without a sparkling resume to boast, Joe Wright takes a timeless story of love & courtship and gives it a new life. While he can’t match the quality of the BBC television series due to time constraints, he takes both hours he has to work with and crafts the essentials of the story together. While some subplots of the book are removed due to time, Wright has taken what matters most in the plot and crafted his story around it. While the story has been told many times before, he doesn’t go and create an alternate version of events or sequences out of place.
Giving it a magnificent, epic sort of feel is the film’s score and cinematography. Pride & Prejudice is a film that not only looks great, it sounds great as well. With a setting and attention to detail already in place to recreate the time period in place, the way the film is shot is awe-inspiring. There aren’t any fancy camera tricks or multiple angle shots; the best possible shot is used as frequently as possible. It’s refreshing to see.
What is equally refreshing is the sort of acting provided. Wright allows his actors to bring their own perspective to established characters while keeping them within the confines of Austen’s vision. Knightley and MacFadyen are center stage and have a great chemistry with one another, that’s for sure, but the thing that’s impressive is that they don’t merely inhabit their characters. They breathe a new life into them. Elizabeth is a quick-witted, independent woman looking for love on her own terms. While many actresses have succeeded in playing Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley knows exactly how and where she wants to take the character and Wright is up to task to let her. MacFadyen matches her step for step as well; they have an astonishing chemistry together on screen. As the film (and their relationship) develops so does the complexity of their interactions.