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Quint puts on a puffy shirt and observes PRIDE AND PREJUDICE!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my thoughts on the newest adaptation of Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE starring Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn, Jena Malone, Simon Woods and Matthew MacFadyen to name a few from the ensemble.

I must confess an ignorance to most of Jane Austen's work and I hadn't seen a performance or film version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE before this film. In fact, I almost didn't go to this screening because I'm not a huge fan of costume dramas, however I couldn't justify missing the screening because I was just too lazy to trek all the way up north, so off I went.

And I'm rather glad I did. I was even chatting with a friend before about how much time we were going to give it before we walked out and snuck into CAPOTE. Luckily for us, we didn't have to cheat the theater out of a ticket.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, for those who don't know, is about a family of 5 sisters. The matriarch of the family (played in this film by the absolutely wonderful Brenda Blethyn) is trying to get her marrying age daughters attached to rich husbands as the family is a breath away from poverty. There's the beautiful eldest daughter (Rosamund Pike), the apparently less beautiful central character (which is debatable), Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and some younger siblings including the very cute Jena Malone, Carey Mulligan and Talulah Riley.

The story is about the troubled, but strong love Elizabeth has for the wealthy and handsome Mr. Darcy. He starts out the movie very cold, yet the attraction is there and their mutual attraction takes 2 hours to fully express itself, even if the very characters in the story seem set to stay apart.

Knightley really shines in the movie. There are some actors who can do classic play or book work really well, but still sound like they're reading (well) from said play or book. Then there are the select few who are able to deliver the rather stilted and old fashioned dialogue with such a natural ease you never doubt for a second that they could have existed in that time. With the exception of some of the sisters, especially Jena Malone I'm afraid to say as I'm harboring a rather large crush on her, all the actors in the film feel natural and never like they're spoofing the pattern of speech from a Shakespeare play.

I sometimes see a great actor doing a great performance in a film like this, but even then most of the time I feel like I'm watching that actor doing a great performance. I wouldn't say that Keira Knightley disappears into her role, but I can say that I didn't for a second get caught up so much in the classical dialogue that I couldn't see her character.

Matthew MacFadyen had a tough role, that of Mr. Darcy the kind of douchey main love interest for Knightley's Elizabeth. However, our perception of him (and other characters) changes quite a bit as the movie progresses and after the characters meet at a party, no matter how the characters react, you'll find yourself not only knowing that they're destined to get together, but you'll also find that you WANT them to get together.

MacFadyen plays the role with many layers, never feeling like a two dimensional character. Really liked his work in this.

Brenda Blethyn is fantastic as Mrs. Bennet, the matriarch of the Bennet family. Her desire to marry off her daughters and the lengths she'll go to do just that are often really damned funny and Blethyn plays the character perfectly. The mother could easily be seen as a terrible woman for what she's doing, but the way Blethyn plays her you can never really think ill of her. She's just sweet and funny, especially when she's doing pretty despicable things.

Dame Judy Dench also has an appearance as a truly despicable person, a wealthy woman who puts herself quite high above most of society, especially those that struggle to make a living. She's not in the movie long, but as always Dench proves she can be a Class A Bitch when she wants you to see her as one.

You couldn't convince me that Rosamund Pike was the same woman that deserved a punch in the mouth for her performance in DOOM. She's the doe-eyed elder sister here who is being hooked up with the exceedingly rich Mr. Bingley, played with childlike innocence by Simon Woods. Fortunately for her, she actually is attracted to Mr. Bingley and he to her, although their love is a quiet one beset by urgings from his upper-crust friends to avoid degrading his family by marrying into the poor one Pike belongs to.

Noticeably missing from the cast list are Keira's Knightleys, who have made grand appearances in her last few movies. I know saying that right now will mean that 80% of those reading won't go see the movie now, but oh well. It's true and it's sad that the movie is missing them, but it somehow survives their absence.

The film is Grade A all the way. The direction is fresh and keeps the film flowing and unstuffy. The cinematography is lush and shows the beauty of the English countryside, especially with its famous fog and rain. The acting is great, the story classic and the movie well produced. It made a fan of one guy who doesn't like these kinds of movies.

I wouldn't say this is a buyer for me on DVD, but it's certainly one that I greatly enjoyed watching at the theater, despite my previous doubts as to my enjoyment.

I'm gonna hit the sack now. Been working all day on my Holiday Shopping Guide... and I've got some really neat giveaways lined up for this year, including a rather geeky piece from Sideshow/Weta. Thanks for all who have submitted suggestions for the Guide. I've got some really great stuff. Keep them coming!!!

I'll be back soon with a pair of interviews and a few more reviews, including another film with Dame Judi Dench called MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS, a film I liked even more than PRIDE & PREJUDICE! 'Til then, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.


Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 10, 2005, 6:17 a.m. CST

    Keira Knightley . . .

    by freak2thec0re

    ahh, Keira Knightley . . .

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 6:17 a.m. CST

    Wrote a final high school exam on Persuasion once ...

    by Shan

    ... didn't even finish it. I shouldn't do things like that when it decides my future ...

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 6:24 a.m. CST

    "Jana Malone"

    by quentintarantado

    I think you have a better chance of actually going somewhere with your crush if you get her name right in the first place.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Domino as Elizabeth?

    by Evil Chicken

    This has a long, LONG way to go before it comes close to A&E

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 6:31 a.m. CST

    I went to see this...

    by Dr_Zoidberg

    and I was shocked that I liked it. Made me feel gay... until I started wanking over Keira Knightley that is. Yes, Domino has the best tit shots for Miss Knightley. Shame she went for an ass double, she has a wonderful arse, as seen in those beach bikini pictures. And I heard that the American version of Pride and Prejudice has an extended ending, is this true?

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 6:51 a.m. CST

    Jane Austen and her Pre-Suffragette Femininity

    by seppukudkurosawa

    You realise that Jane Austen ruined the world forever right? Couldn't those Victorian women make do with the likes of Thomas Hardy? He had a few female characters in his stories. In fact so did Oscar Wilde come to think of it...and there was Ms. Wilhemina in Dracula, plus you had Mary Shelley being allowed to write Frankenstein. But no! Those precocious females couldn't make do with that, they had to write flowery expos

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 7:55 a.m. CST

    I wouldn't be surprised that you're unsure whether to ta

    by seppukudkurosawa

    there are some real characters on these boards, but yeah feel free to Ha all day and all night long because I love my sisters out there. I'd even go so far as to say they're probably the superior sex. At least the more sensitive one- but that doesn't explain my wrinkled, always-screaming, terrifyingly scantily-clad land-lady. I'm not sure anything explains her.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 8 a.m. CST

    Jane Austen was the sexiest beanpole tomboy

    by scratcher

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 8:24 a.m. CST

    Thanks Quint! You have surely ruined my boyfriend

    by leesheri

    It was an amazing book, mind that I am not a romance book type of gal usually, and I am really looking forward to seeing it on the silver screen. Your review assures me that my boyfriend can

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 9:05 a.m. CST

    Is this the Biography of Jesse Helms?

    by cookylamoo

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 9:42 a.m. CST

    It was good

    by Purgatori

    But I still think the bar was set by the BBC Mini Series. They had to cut out a lot for this to fit in at around 2 hours (maybe a bit over) and it ended WAAAY abrupt. MacFayden did a good job as Darcy though, very longing look and nearly touching. But Colin Firth still beats him.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 9:53 a.m. CST

    "...could have existed in that time."

    by gobofraggleuk

    "Then there are the select few who are able to deliver the rather stilted and old fashioned dialogue with such a natural ease you never doubt for a second that they could have existed in that time."........I think you'll find that they're delivering lines based on the written fiction of that time, which was not naturalistic... nor was it representative of the way people actually spoke. Just as people didn't actually ever speak in Shakespearean verse. Except on the stage. With Shakespeare waving his quill at them. And by 'quill', yes, I do mean penis.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 10:35 a.m. CST

    Why Compare

    by Lovecraftfan

    Why a re people comparing this to the miniseries. This has two hours to develop the story and the mini had five. Of course the movies going to move quicker. I loved it

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 11:41 a.m. CST

    As an adaptation it was a steaming pile of crap

    by elab49

    Well Wright may have made a gritty depiction of life around 1800 - as he so repeatedly and anally goes on about because of when it was written as opposed to published - but it is HIS not Austen's and shouldn't claim to be an adaptation. Mrs Bennett looks like a rural washerwoman. This is a pampered woman - they have servants (remember the book scene with the servant dressing the hair, etc)? But Wright portrays her with rough reddened skin all down her chest, rough hands and working in the kitchen. Mr Bennett - the script makes too cuddly and modern and ignored the weakness in him. The scene where he stops Mary playing is supposed to make you cringe - not pass in seconds. If it doesn't - don't include it. MacFadyen is very weak in the part and seems to be doing some kind of Pride by numbers acting. The first proposal he looks like a nervous schoolboy rather than a man overcoming his pride to make a proposal beneath his station. Most of his lines, he could as well be reading a shopping list. Lydia is awful. Completely over the top with excessive shrieking and skipping. Indeed, Knightley plays Elizabeth more like the giggling inane character Lydia actually is in the book, at times. And Elizabeth. Half the time Knightley is, clearly, mimicing Ehle's voice and intonation - close your eyes to see what a copy it is. And in her role you see Wright's major error - there is NO PREJUDICE. From the first encounter with Darcy she clearly fancies him. When he comments to Bingley on the attractiveness of the women in the hall she initially looks hurt - not shocked and pissed off. The latter should set up the prejudice side of things. And when she and 'caroline' are prancing round the room she comes across like a tease, completely up for it. And by virtually cutting out Wickham you don't get Elizabeth invested enough there to set up the prejudicial aspects falling out of that relationship. And she is Caroline not Miss Bingley apparently. And Mr Bingley happily wanders into Jane's bedroom. And and and - Wright can boast about he great he is with period all he wants. But a few panorama shots of rural life (which seem to show he prefers Hardy frankly) don't excuse him the glaring blunders all over the place. The cinematographer - who clearly wants awards - should have been reined in. He veered between Bronte and Hardy throughout the film - and wasn't the last proposal shots/lighting from Tess? The need to see Darcy walk along through the 'scape with unkempt shirt was just dumb. But most importantly - when going between those 2 very different landscapes they forget the most important one - Austen. (She'd have laughed out loud at the Elizabeth = sad, therefore = rain, running through to picturesque folly rubbish). I admit I found it impossible the watch the film without using the book as context. I was prepared to give it some leeway as it had to provide the story in a short space of time. But to forget fully one half of the core of the book in prejudice and mess up all over the place? I could only see it as a mess with generally poor performances (when Knightley wasn't aping Ehle she was gurning or skipping or both) - although for some it was simply a case of bad script. Tom Holland/Judi Dench alone would escape censure. The former toned down the comic aspects of Collins, and turned in a very interesting approach. Dench does superbly the schtick she can do in her sleep whether it be here or in Oscar Wilde. The shortened length could have been handled by a competent sreenwriter surely? Not characters filling in story gaps and helping along the audience all over the place. Elizabeth couldn't have come up with the

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 12:24 p.m. CST

    Tough to top the A&E miniseries...

    by GreatWhiteNoise

    I'll see this (if for no other reason than to spend two more blissful hours in the company of the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet), but it'd have to be a career performance on her part to outdo Jennifer Ehle's performance in the miniseries. The casting in that production was impeccable -- some of Colin Firth's best work, in my opinion, and as much as I also like Donald Sutherland, Benjamin Whitrow was priceless as the suffering-it-all-very-gladly Mr. Bennet. But, as said, I'll see this one.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 1:01 p.m. CST

    Matthew MacFadyen

    by odysseus

    He's great in the British TV series, MI-5 (knows as SPOOKS in Blighty).

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Was it the SIENFELD "puffy shirt" you were wearing?

    by pokadoo

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 1:16 p.m. CST

    "Puffy shirt"

    by mortsleam

    But I don't wanna be a pirate! Sorry, had to be said.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 1:57 p.m. CST

    ewwww... seppukudkurosawa had "superior sex" with his sister?


    wait... I might have read that wrong.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 3:25 p.m. CST


    by Lovecraftfan

    That doesnt make any sense so your not allowed to comment on the film unless you studied the book and seen all rpevious versions. Thats ridiculous. Ive done neither and I loved the movie. So it not close to the book. I dont really care I just loved the movie.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 3:52 p.m. CST

    This review is a plant I tell you!

    by SunChungFan

    Great review Quint. This is some of your best writing to date. Congrats. I honestly wouldn't expect to find a review for this film here. Your a serious Merchant Ivory balla now. Laid back sippin on the gin and tea. Laid back. With my mind on my tights and my tights on my mind. If you see Santa Claus boyeeeeeeee, run, run for your life.

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 5:02 p.m. CST

    This is a pretty film to look at...

    by milkybar

    but that is about it. the only way I can describe the reaction of my gf, who is intimate with the source material, is to use the words a Chinese guide told me in Beijing "Here, Chinese do not like House of Flying Daggers, as it has no story - it is just pretty to look at". And that is the problem here. Lots of stylistic camera shots and effects, cutaways, panning landscapes... if you cut them out, you end up with about 25 minutes of screen time. And it butchers the source material - as a compare and contrast, imagine Lord of the Rings done as a single movie. That simply picks 3 chapters from each book. And then condenses them further. I would say this is shocking, but the current trend in film making (and this does come from the producers of Bridget Jones, Notting Hill et al) is pop-stle bitesize moments wrapped in visual candy. And time after time movies like Million Dollar Baby, or Passion otC (albeit slightly guilty of overused visual tricks), or a thousand other movies prove that people can and do embrace a good plot driven story. My only hope is that, with the original BBC adaptation (the one broadcast on A&E stateside) now available on DVD, that it pulls the audience of this film to check that piece out. Oh, and Kiera completely demolishes the role of Liza Bennett - supposed to be a 30something cynic, not a late teen giggler...

  • Nov. 10, 2005, 7:53 p.m. CST

    by Lovecraftfan

    Who cares if it condences the source which of course it has to do if it tells a compellingt story. I get so annoyed when people complain when every single scene from the hefty book isnt somehow squeezed into a two hour movie. That just ridiculous. I think its more important that it tells an intricate, moving, and irreverant story.

  • Nov. 11, 2005, 3:46 a.m. CST

    If you thought the P&P mini series was good, wait till you Yanks

    by Big_Bubbaloola

    It's showing twice weekly here at the mo and it's a cracker! It even has Scully in it! But boy she doesn't age well!

  • Nov. 11, 2005, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Anderson is indeed superb in it

    by elab49

    but if you are lucky you will get a reedited version without the crack addict camera work that not only has nothing to do with the pace of the book, it doesn't match the pace of the piece it is filming! Oh - and again, readers of the book may have a problem. Because it isn't entirely clear Davies has.

  • Nov. 11, 2005, 11:50 p.m. CST

    I find Keira Knightley neither hot nor talented.

    by scrumdiddly

  • Nov. 12, 2005, 6:25 a.m. CST

    I liked Donald Sutherland in it

    by Wyrdy the Gerbil

    He doesnt have many lines as Mr Bennet but he did look great

  • Nov. 12, 2005, 10:46 p.m. CST

    Pride & Prejudice

    by keepcoolbutcare

    Do I win the pedantic douche award of the day by pointing out that the movie title actually does have an ampersand? Oh, I do. Thanks.

  • Nov. 13, 2005, 11:47 a.m. CST

    Best Jane Austen Story Is NORTHANGER ABBEY

    by ZombieSolutions

    it's a satire of gothic literature and it's very funny. you know, for those of you who enjoy reading, and/or enjoy conversations with intelligent / witty women (as opposed to shrill bimbettes).

  • Nov. 14, 2005, 7:57 a.m. CST

    Ahhh, there's the illiterate Quint I know...

    by devil0509

    Quint begins a book-to-movie review with a confession of ignorance of the author's works...the universe is in order. Quint, from your Harry Potter reviews, we know you can read. So go ahead, borrow Pride and Prejudice from the library, give it a read. It won't be as brisk a read as Rowling, but you may enjoy it. Really.