Review Date: December 09, 2005
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Deborah Moggach
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster
Keira Knightley as Elizabeth
Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy
Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet
Set in 18th century England, meet the Bennet family, with mom and pop doing their utmost to marry off their five wonderful daughters to rich guys. It might not sound like a romantic notion, but in those days, that’s pretty much all these folks had going for themselves, and considering the charm oozing off these girls, I sorta wish I was living back then myself. What follows is a tale of one specific daughter who hates this one guy, then sorta likes him, then sorta hates him again, then sorta…well, you get the picture.
I don’t normally like movies like this. In fact, I don’t even bother watching to review them because I know that my sensibilities aren’t geared to such films, so why put myself through the torture and you, the reader, through even more torture, reading my likely-to-be nasty reviews. That said, I decided to give this film a shot because of circumstances and because it had been receiving across-the-board positive reviews (then again, the same could be said of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and GOSFORD PARK – two films of which I was not a fan). Preamble aside, the bottom line with this movie is emotion and love and characters, and even though you may not be a fan of “British pictures” (I ain’t), even though you may not be a fan of “period pieces” (I ain’t) and even though you may not want anything to do with films that include the names Dame, Judy and Dench in their credits (like moi), if you’re a fan of good romantic movies, I don’t see why you wouldn’t truly appreciate this one, despite certain small reservations. For example, being a North American dumbass, I would not understand certain words here and there, and miss the meaning of certain phrases. But you know what…it didn’t really matter all that much. In the end, despite this being a “chick flick” overall (literally, there are girls prancing around during the entire picture hoping to marry a “good boy”, while giggling all the way), I got caught up in the main romance buoying the flick, with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen teamed up for just that.
A brilliantly constructed tale of love that begins like most (with plenty of sarcasm and resentment), graduates to a certain level of interest, downshifts into all-out miscommunication, prejudice and hate, to eventually glide back up a few gears and rest in that wonderful little place some call “love”. The thing that makes this film so great is that it truly takes you through that journey as well, as each of the two lead characters, start strong and blunt, and eventually become a lot more reflective, mellow and yes, even…vulnerable (one of the earlier dance sequences between them is also fun to watch). And if you’re sitting there asking yourself if I cried during this movie, the answer is a confident “no”, although I will freely admit to misting up like a baby-child during the film’s final ten minutes or so. The scene in the garden between Knightley and MacFadyen was the shit, and I say that shamelessly (well, that’s not true…I’m a little ashamed). Add that potent tale of love to a gorgeous looking movie, surprisingly brisk and impressive directing, some funny turns, particularly by Brenda Blethyn – who should definitely be nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her goofiness here – and a solid showing by both Knightley (I love your teeth!) and MacFadyen, and you’ve got yourself a date movie that goes a little past its intended runtime (a touch over two hours), but ultimately satisfies with plenty of love, charm and glow-in-your-heart feelings to go around. And if you thought people played too many “head games” in relationships nowadays, check out the rules that these folks had to abide by way back when. It’s nuts!
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian