Not remotely true to Austen, just Bridget Jones in silly dresses.
By a customer
, 14 Nov 2005
Well Wright may have made a gritty depiction of life around 1800 - as he so repeatedly and anally goes on about because of when it was written as opposed to published - but it is HIS not Austen's and shouldn't claim to be an adaptation.
Mrs Bennett looks like a rural washerwoman. This is a pampered woman - they have servants (remember the book scene with the servant dressing the hair, etc)? But Wright portrays her with rough reddened skin all down her chest, rough hands and working in the kitchen.
Mr Bennett - the script makes too cuddly and modern and ignored the weakness in him. The scene where he stops Mary playing is supposed to make you cringe - not pass in seconds. If it doesn't - don't include it.
MacFadyen is very weak in the part and seems to be doing some kind of Pride by numbers acting. The first proposal he looks like a nervous schoolboy rather than a man overcoming his pride to make a proposal beneath his station. Most of his lines, he could as well be reading a shopping list.
Lydia is awful. Completely over the top with excessive shrieking and skipping. Indeed, Knightley plays Elizabeth more like the giggling inane character Lydia actually is in the book, at times.
And Elizabeth. Half the time Knightley is, clearly, mimicing Ehle's voice and intonation - close your eyes to see what a copy it is. And in her role you see Wright's major error - there is NO PREJUDICE.
From the first encounter with Darcy she clearly fancies him. When he comments to Bingley on the attractiveness of the women in the hall she initially looks hurt - not shocked and pissed off. The latter should set up the prejudice side of things. And when she and 'caroline' are prancing round the room she comes across like a tease, completely up for it. And by virtually cutting out Wickham you don't get Elizabeth invested enough there to set up the prejudicial aspects falling out of that relationship.
And she is Caroline not Miss Bingley apparently. And Mr Bingley happily wanders into Jane's bedroom. And and and - Wright can boast about he great he is with period all he wants. But a few panorama shots of rural life (which seem to show he prefers Hardy frankly) don't excuse him the glaring blunders all over the place.
The cinematographer - who clearly wants awards - should have been reined in. He veered between Bronte and Hardy throughout the film - and wasn't the last proposal shots/lighting from Tess? The need to see Darcy walk along through the 'scape with unkempt shirt was just dumb. But most importantly - when going between those 2 very different landscapes they forget the most important one - Austen. (She'd have laughed out loud at the Elizabeth = sad, therefore = rain, running through to picturesque folly rubbish).
I admit I found it impossible the watch the film without using the book as context. I was prepared to give it some leeway as it had to provide the story in a short space of time. But to forget fully one half of the core of the book in prejudice and mess up all over the place? I could only see it as a mess with generally poor performances (when Knightley wasn't aping Ehle she was gurning or skipping or both) - although for some it was simply a case of bad script.
Tom Holland/Judi Dench alone would escape censure. The former toned down the comic aspects of Collins, and turned in a very interesting approach. Dench does superbly the schtick she can do in her sleep whether it be here or in Oscar Wilde.
The shortened length could have been handled by a competent sreenwriter surely? Not characters filling in story gaps and helping along the audience all over the place. Elizabeth couldn't have come up with the £10k figure. And while they wanted to cut time with her learning of Darcy's involvement in Wickhams marriage the lines didn't fit with Lydia. It was the worst case of incongruous exposition in the piece.
It really is appalling stuff. Anyone who reviews it saying it works well in the context of the book is someone I frankly don't believe has read or understood the characterisations in the damn thing. Wright seems to think his characters are in the 1990s not the 1709s from their behaviour. I'm not convinced he has read the book - he certainly doesn't understand it. He doesn't understand Austen's acerbic wit or lightness of touch - he certainly made a dull plodding film out of it.
What is possibly worse was the sad pathetic need of the chick lit lovers to need the 'I love you, I love yous' all over the place so they can sigh and get off on it. The fact that it has no place in a work by Austen is apparently irrelevant.
Anyone who reviews it as a film alone? Well, more difficult for me except I would note the poor acting, the weak Darcy, and the gurning skipping inane irritation of the whole thing.
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