Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. United Kingdom, 2005. Focus Features, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title Films, Scion Films. Screenplay by Deborah Moggach, based on the novel by Jane Austen. Cinematography by Roman Osin. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner,Paul Webster. Music by Dario Marianelli. Production Design by Sarah Greenwood. Costume Design by Jacqueline Durran. Film Editing by Paul Tothill. Academy Awards 2005. Golden Globe Awards 2005. Toronto International Film Festival 2005.
That fucking Jane Austen, every time I decide not to fall for it and every time I’m suckered in! Those hesitant to watch another adaptation of Austen’s most popular novel following the superb (and still superior) BBC miniseries of 1995 should stow their principles and indulge. Keira Knightley is amiable as heroine Lizzie Bennett, the most feisty and headstrong (which at the time it takes place simply means “resisting arranged marriage”) of five sisters living in destitute conditions with a loving father (Donald Sutherland, who is marvelous) and a giddy mother (a monstrously good Brenda Blethyn) who is anxious to see her girls wedded to rich men. Lizzie makes the acquaintance of stoic, unlikeable Mark Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) and before you can say opposites attract, they’re at each others’ throats with arguing…and of course, you know this means they really just want to get it on. Director Joe Wright has done a wonderful job of paring down Austen’s lengthy narrative to fit a two hour timeframe while not missing out on any dramatic movement (or even sexual tension), plus he polishes it off with a grungier look in the makeup and clothing that reflects the unsanitary situations of 19th century England much better than most period films to date have done. MacFadyen is the ideal romantic hero in the Tough-Guys-Don’t-Curtsey vein, while Judi Dench and Penelope Wilton are incredibly effective in supporting roles, and the production values are all at the top of their class. A wonderful production, though goddamn these girls for making me work so hard for their happiness when you just know they’re going to die from childbirth or a sneeze in, like, three months.