PG, 2 hr. 6 min. Directed by: Joe Wright. Release Date: November 11, 2005. DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006.
I should preface this by saying that, under usual circumstances, I would not have chosen to watch this movie. Stiff, pasty-faced Britons running around after in other in a desperate attempt to produce more stiff, pasty-faced Britons is not exactly what I would call a pot-boiler. You could say that modern media has given me the expectation of a more graphic and less gentile approach to this problem, although I would say that I just expect people to get to the frigging point and maybe go out in the sunshine once in awhile. I also have a problem finding interest in a “romance” where the women involved feel certain that they could get past whatever mutant-like appearance this new man in their lives might have so long as his income was large enough. Makes you wonder if it’s really gold digging that's the world’s oldest profession, doesn’t it?
About a year ago, I streamed a movie from Netflix called Lost in Austen, wherein some ridiculously out-of-touch young woman spends most of her time rejecting the real people around her for the characters in the book upon which that movie, as well as this one, were based. Eventually, she falls into a magic wardrobe (or some similar plot device) and finds herself not in Narnia, as I kind of expected, but in the middle of this story. I liked Lost in Austen and it drudged up enough interest in the works of Jane Austen for me to watch this movie. Okay, Keira Knightley’s presence helped.
The first thing I noticed was that delivery of the dialogue felt… rushed. It was almost as if the cast was in competition to spit out their lines as fast as possible to see who could finish first. But other than that, I thought this was really well-performed. The cast was outstanding, including Donald Southerland in a role I wish was larger, Judy Dench, and Rosamund Pike. It’s really hard to screw up a decent story, and I found that the elements I liked in Lost In Austen were the same as the elements I liked in Pride & Prejudice. I might have to break down and read this book.
I’m still not sure that I think a romance amid the setting of Victorian (?) England is a perfect combination. All those good manners and impassive faces really spoil the passion to my mind. And don’t get me wrong and assume by passion that I mean sex. I’m old enough now to understand the difference, and even when all of these complicated relationships work themselves out, I don’t get the feeling that there was any passion, or that it was buried under so many layers of good breeding and civility that it didn’t have enough of a chance to peek out at us. But, there is a lot of entertainment value in this film. I particularly like the strike of the nosy matchmakers of Britain’s middle and high societies and the counterstrike shenanigans of those young men and women who don’t really want the interference.