On behalf of Romancing the Tome, I'm giving the new "Pride & Prejudice" movie starring Keira Knightley a ringing endorsement. Yes, I'll admit I arrived with only half an open mind to last night's "Girls Night Out" screening of the film in Los Angeles. Ever since I heard that this adaptation (which premieres on Nov. 18th) was in the works, I had a "Why bother?" attitude. After all, how could anyone improve upon (or even come close to rivaling) the BBC mini-series starring the unforgettable Colin Firth? How could a movie capture all the brilliant humor and knee-buckling romance in just two-and-a-half hours? By the end of the screening, however, I would have gladly watched it two more times in a row without interruption.
Think of this movie as a companion piece or supplement to the BBC miniseries. It doesn't necessarily outshine that version, but it definitely measures up in its own right. I like to think of it as a "quick fix" alternative for those times you simply don't have six hours to watch the miniseries straight through. There are no egregious edits in condensing the story, and the film offers up portions of dialogue from the book that weren't included in the BBC version, giving it a fresh new appeal.
The movie delivers a more rustic, unpolished, and I daresay realistic depiction of life as Austen might have known it. (Unkempt hair, manure in the streets, etc.), and there's a startling contrast between the Bennetts' rural existence and the posh surroundings at Netherfield and Pemberly.
Knightley plays a younger, perhaps more sassy version of Elizabeth Bennett than was played by Jennifer Ehle in the miniseries. As Mr. Darcy, Matthew MacFadyen (a.k.a. "He who is not Colin Firth") took a while to grow on me -- but isn't that the point, really? By the end, just the very sight of him made me damn near fall out of my chair into a blob of smitten-flavored Jell-O. True, there's no shirtless "dip in the lake" shot of Darcy like we saw from Firth, but there are plenty of other swoon-worthy moments to keep romantics satisfied. Beautifully directed, the last 30 minutes, in particular, elicited plenty of audible sighs from the audience, from Bingley's endearing proposal to Jane, to a vision of Darcy so stunningly beautiful that you may need defibrillator paddles to revive yourself. Seriously. Don't miss this one. -- Amy