Both Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen do a great job and make an adorable couple. A twist with this version is that she never actually hates Mr. Darcy (a little light on the prejudice), in fact she quite fancies him all the way along. This is probably one of the reasons the younger crowd loves this version although the Austen purists may disagree. I rather enjoyed the moment at the end of the proposal scene where they almost eat each other in passion before they remember themselves. Macfadyen plays Mr. Darcy a little on the shy side and Knightly is radiant, even in her dull brown dresses and lank hair. Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins is a riot and really nails the part. Oh, those boiled potatoes.
Brenda Blethyn is a wonderfully realistic and softened Mrs. Bennett, and it is nice to see some of the affection between her and Donald Sutherland’s Mr. Bennett, which must have existed at some point in their marriage, but is quite gone in the book and in other adaptations. I have to admit that I like her Mrs. Bennett better, even if it is not quite how Austen intended. Donald Sutherland is an endearing Mr. Bennett and he obviously loved playing the father of the 5 girls. But could we not have toned down his Hollywood white teeth? They were actually distracting and he was trying to cover them up at one point with his hand. Maybe a bit of yellowing added afterwards in the editing room would have helped. Judi Dench is wonderful although a bit tanned and scary in the face-off scene with Elizabeth at Longbourn. Oddly done at night and with frightening lighting from below which makes her nostrils huge! Sorry, her acting is marvellous. Mostly scary in all the right ways.
And Jane is well played by the lovely Rosamund Pike. She has a real life obsession with ribbons which really meshes with my idea of a romantic Jane. It must have been difficult for her to play opposite her former boyfriend Simon Woods as Mr. Bingley. I still can’t believe that he later turned out to be gay (sorry gals). As if that wasn’t enough, Rosamund was engaged to the director of P&P, Joe Wright who called it off after the invites were sent out, according to her IMDb page. OK, enough with the idle gossip (sorry Rosamund). The other sisters were also well played. This was the first role for Carey Mulligan as Kitty and she has since taken off career wise. She and Jena Malone had great chemistry as the two wild sisters and Talulah Riley gave a sweetness to the role of Mary.
The cinematography has to be mentioned as it is lush and exhilarating. Part of the appeal of these adaptations is the scenery and this one excels. A bit of Chatsworth, along with some great period houses and almost all done on location. Very drool worthy real estate.
My only real quibble with this production was the speed of the dialogue in the proposal scene in the rain. I understand that it was supposed to suggest that Mr. Darcy had made up the whole speech ahead and was rattling it off quickly from nervousness. However, it just comes off as weird. The rest of the film was lovely and enjoyable and I didn’t mind the nod to Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff when Mr. Darcy strides across the field at dawn. Yes, the director is playing with the female emotions here, but sometimes we want to be played.
In short, lovely, sweet and well worth watching again and again.
Now who else wants a sequel to P&P along the lines of the many books out there. P&P-the next generation? Anyone? Heresy I know, but what fun!