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Pride and Prejudice  

Review: written 2006

Fantastic entertainment for fans and newcomers to Austen

What a classy movie! This is the successor to the Merchant Ivory movies... Joe Wright does an impeccable job of getting a dense and wordy novel down to the essentials of the story, and still leave time to savour the beauty of England and the cast.

The story involves Lizzy and her 4 sisters, following their path to marriage through the minefield of Georgian conventions of 1797 (when the movie was set) and English social mores. The pride and the prejudices come from every angle in this classic and timeless story.

There are several ingredients here that simply make this work to perfection. The cast is for the most part spot on, with Keira Knightley in top form as the headstrong Lizzy, looking, sounding and emoting every inch the part. She is surrounded by Brenda Blethyn and Donald Sutherland as her father and mother, Judi Dench as a Lady Catherine to make you wither in your boots (unless you are Lizzy of course), ravishing Rosamund Pike as her older sister and Tom Hollander as the wimpy cleric, amongst others. The only slight let down, and only because the others are so good, is Matthew MacFadyen, who is perfectly adequately brooding as Darcy, but compared to Colin Firth lacks the charisma to make such a character attractive to Lizzy.

The realism is helped immensely by the cast, most of whom you get the feeling are portraying real vignettes from their lives and situations they can relate to. Jimmy Cliff is raw and full of the youthful energy his character is supposed to have.

Overall, I suggest avoiding comparison with the BBC version, and take this movie as the definitive cinema version, at least.

- a p.s. The UK DVD has plenty of extras fleshing out history and Jane Austen as well as the usual 'making of' stuff, but most interesting is the alternative ending for the US market - this adds a scene of Lizzy and Darcy together cuddling and expressing their love, which seems much more like a Hollywood add on than the original ending, and adds nothing other than some saccharine for those who cannot find the romance in the story but require it spelt out.

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