“My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever.”
Ten years ago, the thought of a Victorian piece, starring Keira Knightley, based on a Jane Austin classic, wouldn’t have been more of a turn off for me. So even though it got great reviews, there was no way I was seeing Pride and Prejudice when it was relevant. But in the 10 years since, Keira Knightly has proven herself to be a pretty good actor who generally chooses pretty good movies. And even though Jane Austin might not be my thing, I have to accept that being popular for a couple of centuries must mean she’s pretty good at the whole book writin’ thing. Plus, I was home from work, bored, and Pride and Prejudice popped up on cable. So, why not?
It’s late 18th century England, and Mr and Mrs Bennet (Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn) have a problem. They have five daughters and no male heir. So while they might all be living in the comfort of their affluent farm at the moment, they need to marry off their daughters before Mr Bennet dies and all of that affluence is inherited by a distant cousin. The first on the docket for marriage is eldest daughter, Jane (Rosamund Pike). Rich playboy Mr Bingley (Simon Woods) has come to town, and everyone assumes him being taken by the hottie Jane is a forgone conclusion.
But this isn’t the story of Jane’s search for love, it’s all about the second eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). At a local dance, Bingley has a friend in tow, Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). Things start off on rocky ground between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy when she overhears him bad mouthing her to a friend. But, even though there’s no reason for it, both Elizabeth and Mr Darcy find it impossible to stop thinking about each other.
I get it, Pride and Prejudice is a literary classic. I get it, this movie has a pretty good reputation and other versions have been no less than revered. What I don’t get is, why. I know it was a simpler time when the book was written, but I find the story just too contrived, to convenient and too simplistic. Why do Elizabeth and Mr Darcy love each other? According to this adaptation, they just do and I just have to take their word for it. Because I never saw a single thing in the movie that made me think these characters had any chemistry or even a single reason to not loath each other.
It’s also one of those stories where everything could be resolved in an instant if just one bastard would come clean and say what they feel and what they really mean. Sure, it was a different time when everyone was very reserved, and the rules of society were very strict. But c’mon. I’m sure that even back then, if a dude desperately wanted to pull a root as bad as Mr Darcy apparently does, he’d bend the odd societal rule and cut some of the shit to get all up in Elizabeth’s corset.
It’s not all bad though. Pride and Prejudice looks amazing, Pike and Knightley are particularly good at delivering the flowery, Victorian language, and the period is intriguing enough to make any old bollocks interesting enough. But when a movie’s central premise is as hard to believe as the attraction between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is, it’s hard to get too invested.