Directed by: Joe Wright
Premise: An adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel about Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and her four sisters, whose lives are turned upside down when a rich young man (Simon Woods) and his best friend (Matthew McFayden) move into town.
What Works: The film has a great kinetic quality about it. The party scenes are amazingly well choreographed, using long single shots that navigate through the crowd and the set. The film uses the formal dancing of the period to advance the character relationships and their conflicts. There is also a great deal of wit and humor throughout the picture and it translates surprisingly well despite the fact that the dialogue maintains the old English syntax. The performances are very strong and the actors find the emotional beats in the dialogue and really deliver on them. Donald Sutherland plays the father of the five sisters and he is very funny but also very sympathetic in a supporting role.
What Doesn’t: The ending is problematic because the conflict runs out of steam. Love stories depend on someone or something blocking the two lovers from getting together and about three quarters of the way through Pride and Prejudice both characters are aware of their mutual feelings and the obstruction is not palpable. The story sets up a conflict between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine (Judi Dench in a glorified cameo) but it never really goes anywhere.
Bottom Line: Pride and Prejudice is a very effective period romance. Although the narrative runs rather thin near the end, the humor and the texture of the film makes it very satisfying.
Episode: #77 (December 11, 2005)