To sum up this film, I would call it BRILLIANT!!
When I heard that this film was being released, I was skeptical. How can you do justice to this classic tale in a 2 hour film? How can you do Pride & Prejudice without Colin Firth? But after watching a long preview of it on the Internet, I was impressed by Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy. Intrigued, I decided I wanted to see it. So, my husband and I headed off to the theater to see it about a month after it had come out. And by the end, I can say that I liked it. I wasn't disappointed and there were certain things that I definitely loved. I got the movie when it came out on DVD and have now watched the film three times plus the commentary track with the director, Joe Wright. And now it is the dearest movie that I own. I have to say that it is my favorite just as Pride & Prejudice is my favorite book of all time.
Trying to collapse this story into two hours was a chore. So, of course not all the events and conversations were included. If you want to see that, watch the miniseries. But they were able to capture the heart of the story within the confines of the film. In this adaptation, we see the Bennett family as really being of the poor country gentry. The differentiation between that family and the Bingleys and of course of the Darcys is vast. I think that in the miniseries you don't get to see that as delineated. The Bennetts in this version live in a small farm house that is not cared for whereas Pemberly, the Darcy home, is a museum.
I have to discuss my favorite scene in the movie. I loved the film and so many of the scenes were unbelievable; but the one I love most, especially in light of the love story, would have to be the first proposal of Darcy to Elizabeth. This scene is full of fire and passion. It really seems to heat up when Lizzie mentions Wickham. Darcy's whole face and stance changes. He closes in on her and even though he is contention with her on the subject, he is still enamored of her. The greatest part is when she is still very angry with him and yet he wants to kiss her and she moves to kiss him as well when he retreats. Beautiful and brilliant scene.
I acknowledged the acting in this film from the beginning. Matthew and Keira were terrific. But since viewing the film several times hence and being able to discover all the nuances within it, I realize they weren't terrific, they were superb. All of the characters were unbelievable. But I have to take off my hat to Matthew Macfadyen. He is the ultimate Darcy to me now. The way he used his eyes and his voice and even humor at times led me to see the real Darcy. He depicted the character as melancholy and deep and yet transparent in his love for Elizabeth. Truly a moving performance. That is not to say anything ill of Keira Knightly. I had my doubts about her playing Elizabeth Bennett, one of the most important literary heroines of all time. But she did magnificently. The more I watch her in the role, the more I see how great she really is.
I loved this movie and yet when I watched the commentary narrated by the director, Joe Wright, I grew to love it more. He opened up to me a whole new side of the film. I realized what a visionary and creative genius he is. There is so much imagery involved that I didn't quite appreciate until then. It was wonderful to hear the stories of this actor and that and to hear how much the actors improvised and put into their characters to make this a truly classic film of a classic and unforgettable story.
Written March 2006