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Pride and Prejudice

Genre: Romance
Rated: PG
Directed by
: Joe Wright
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfayden, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone

Released by: Focus Features

In Short: Jane Austen's classic love-hate romance is gorgeously brought to the big screen.

Jane Austen Would Be Proud
Classic Novel, Classy Film
By Jenny Peters

It's dangerous for filmmakers to mess with much-loved novels, especially one as revered as Jane Austen's nineteenth century tale about mores and manners, "Pride and Prejudice." Adapting the book into a movie that can satisfy both devoted fans and movie-goers not familiar with the story is tough. But director Joe Wright fearlessly took on that challenge, and the resulting movie is a true delight.

Gorgeous Keira Knightley stars as Elizabeth Bennet, the feistiest of five English sisters whose future depends on making good marriages. When she meets ultra-rich Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFayden), sparks fly, and not in a good way. The two take an immediate dislike to each other, much to the dismay of her scheming mother, who is played to perfection by Brenda Blethyn. As the story of Elizabeth’s and Mr. Darcy’s rocky relationship unfolds, the other four Bennet sisters are all embroiled in the trials and tribulations of trying to find suitable men to marry. The clock is ticking for all of them, because once their elderly father (Donald Sutherland, in an Oscar-worthy performance) passes away, a male cousin will inherit his estate and the women will lose both their family home and means of support.

Just like the book, the film is a window into another time and place, when class structures were rigid and women were completely dependent on men for their place in society and financial support. Yet despite that framework, there is much that is completely contemporary in the story, emotions and situations that are as universally true today as they were when Austen wrote the book in 1813.

In faithfully following the novel, this newest cinematic version (there have been seven others over the last fifty years) of "Pride and Prejudice" not only satisfies our emotions and memories of the book, it is also fantastically beautiful, with incredible costumes, settings and visuals that linger in the mind's eye long after the credits have rolled. Add in terrific acting from the whole ensemble, plenty of comic moments mixed into the drama, and deft direction that keeps the action moving along at a lively pace, and there seems to be little doubt that come Oscar time, "Pride and Prejudice" will rack up tons of nominations—and wins, too, most likely.

(Published: 11/23/05)

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