Yes, Big Studio Hollywood's answer to fans of this classic novel and it is utter trash. There I said it and I will shout it from the tops of buildings and hills and even mountains!! This proves that even with a nice studio backing and a big budget, films can still be crap.
One of the problems I have or rather the whole U.S. in fact has is that this is usually the first version people will encounter when they start to investigate P&P and really that is a shame. This was actually the first film adaption I saw and hated it 10 minutes in. Luckily I had read the book first and loved it, so I persevered and found better adaptions. Sadly, there are going to be people that want to watch the movie first before reading the book and this adaption could put them off Austen forever. Don't believe me? Let me tell you a true story. I was talking with one of my friends in high school and somehow we got on the topic of P&P. Naturally I was gushing as the newly minted Austen fan. The response I got was "I really didn't like the movie, so I don't think I'll be reading the book" I was shocked, astounded even and then I asked an important question. "Did you watch the Keira Knightley version or the Colin Firth one?" The response was of course the Knightley one. Now I'm not going to sit here and whine about this movie without having any legit reasons, so let's get on with this review.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy.
Here is a link to the IMDb listing of this adaption:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414387/
This version also clocks in right around 2 hours, which I kept in mind when reviewing.
I'm going to start with the pros first because there are so few and it will leave plenty of time for me to lay out all of the problems with this version.
- Accuracy: Despite the two hour time limit, this version does in fact stay pretty faithful to the book, but we all must remember that adage: It is not the quantity of accurate scenes that is important, but rather the quality. I'll elaborate later since this is supposed to be a pro and not a con.
Well I basically hated all of the actors' portrayals of the characters in this story, but there are a few moments that caught my eye that I should note here in the pros.
- Mr. Bennet comforting Mary: As I previously stated Mary gets a lot of undeserved flack in the story and when a film addresses this I can't help but be appreciative. Generally whenever I encounter the scene where Mr. Bennet rudely and callously stops Mary from singing, I find myself whispering "prick" under my breath. In this version, the camera pans to a crying Mary after her father has stopped her singing and Mr. Bennet is there to comfort her.
- Charlotte telling Lizzie about her marriage to Mr. Collins: Pardon my swearing but this scene is where Charlotte basically bitch slaps Lizzie and I LOVE IT! Keira's Lizzie is so annoying and inconsiderate that she deserved to be told off by Charlotte. I was part cheering and part saddened by Charlotte's fate in this scene. If there is one definitive pro to this version it has to be Charlotte. Have a watch and enjoy Charlotte's verbal smackdown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTVYY5ov0qc
Oh the cons. SO MANY CONS. Not all of these will be put into categories because my complaints are rather copious and varied. So let's get to it.
- Keira Knightley as Lizzie: She really trashed this role. The worst Lizzie, the Lizzie of my nightmares. Unlike Greer Garson's Lizzie who is mindful of propriety and delivers her insults subtly, Keira's Lizzie just spews insults right and left like some modern day cranky girl. Then at other points she is far too giggly and sucks at body language. At times when Lizzie is supposed to be resisting Darcy because of her bad opinion of him, it appears as though Keira's Lizzie is flirting with him.(See the Netherfield scene when Jane is sick and Lizzie, Darcy, Caroline, and Bingley are all interacting). The scene where she rejects Darcy's first proposal is incredibly harsh and offensive as well. She is the reason that 10 minutes in I wanted to give up and watch something else.
- Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy: I'd like to think of Matthew as the bland oatmeal of the Darcy's. His acting is poor, he isn't remarkably attractive, he has no chemistry with Keira, and he doesn't do Darcy's prideful nature well. Matthew's acting is a bit like a robot, all monotone with no facial expression. Not to mention the fact that his first proposal scene was awful AWFUL! He speeds through the proposal in about 10 seconds flat. If you are distracted for a split second when watching this you'll completely miss this important scene. See for yourself:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJX5_rj2lZg
- Camera shots : After watching this I am completely convinced that the camera people and the Director must have ADD. There is a pertinent scene going on and then for some reason the camera pans in on some random item. The first instance of this is when Mr. Bennet is having an important conversation and then the camera zooms in on the random dead butterfly on a pin that he is twirling in his fingers. Then when Mr. Collins is proposing to Lizzie, instead of staying focused on their faces, it zooms in on the random flower Mr. Collins gives her. The camera shots are also rather ridiculous. The sweeping views of the landscape are hackneyed and over done, so please move on. The one I groaned at the most is when Darcy helps Lizzie into the carriage and WHOA their hands touch ugh. The camera pans in on their clasped hands and then zooms in on Darcy's hand when he walks away.
- Rainy proposal scene: This gets its own bullet rather than being clumped into the camera shots because it REALLY irritates me. Apparently there was a memo circulated amongst terrible movie makers who all decided that romantic scenes must always be accompanied by rain. APPARENTLY scenes are better when the characters are soaking wet. This boggles my mind. No sane person has an important conversation in the rain, particularly during Austen's time period. All I can say is the director must have seen The Notebook and thought to himself "Gosh that rain kissing scene was soooooo romantic, why not give Darcy a rain scene" GAAHHH I hated The Notebook movie, Nicholas Sparks is a piss poor writer, and I don't want it to have any similarities with my Austen adaptions. Period. When I rewatched this movie for the review I forgot this scene was in it and when I encountered said scene, I almost rage quitted the movie.
- Historical/Story Inaccuracies: Typically when a period film is made there should be consultants on set in order to determine if everything is accurate. Despite the fact that P&P is fiction, its adaptions have to correctly reflect the time period. That ranges from correct speech, to dress, to social classes, to the setting and its props, and how the characters are supposed to behave. This film screws up all of it. Take for example the very first ball scene (Where annoyingly the room goes still when Darcy, Bingley, and Caroline walk in). The scene portrayed here is one of a lower class dance hall where our main cast of characters would never be found in. Honestly if I were Caroline or Darcy and this ball was my first intro to Meryton I would think them all to be uncouth country folks as well. Next is this film portrays the Bennets as basically a lowerclass farm family. Nowhere in the book do I hear talk of Mr. Bennet hiring people to take care of livestock and Mrs. Bennet should not have the look of a portly, rough skinned, red tinted cook. Side note: when the film panned on the whole of Longbourn did it look like the windows had panes missing?
See what I mean?
The Bennets are not destitute and as I recall Mrs. Bennet saying to Mr. Collins in the movie, they do in fact have servants. With this fact in mind, why does the whole Bennet family, in their pajamas mind you, answer the door when Lady Catherine calls to speak to Lizzie? That would have been rather scandalous to receive company in your pajamas during that time period. Similarly, Lizzie and Darcy's state of dress are not believable for the time period. Lizzie should be wearing bonnets and she never does. Why? She obsessively curtsies, so why does this important article of clothing go unused. Not to mention that scene where she shows up to Netherfield with her hair all loose and without a bonnet. Respectable women did neither in public. The same lack of historical accuracy and decency is disregarded when Lizzie and Darcy are interacting. They would never meet in pajamas and Darcy would not have burst in on Lizzie during the night without his cravat with his shirt partway unbuttoned to give her his letter. This is the stuff that scandals in that time period were made of.
From here on out my cons aren't in any particular categories, just terrible aspects of the movie I noticed:
- Bingley's character is ridiculous. He is like a innocent, wide-eyed school girl with laughable hair. Seriously. It is more teased and coiffed than the girls from the jersey shore.
- Caroline is just annoying. She is neither perfectly haughty, nor threatening in anyway. She pales in comparison to the 1940 Caroline.
- Why do Lizzie and Darcy argue about Wickham in the MIDDLE of a dance. They literally stop dancing to have an argument. Why didn't people notice? How could this have not had any repercussions? The dumbest place for this argument to go down. Not to mention the fact that during the argument, the background instrumental music soars romantically. It was like the composer of the film soundtrack was on crack.
- Other than the awesome Charlotte scene there is no social commentary whatsoever. Apparently the person who wrote the screenplay neglected to read the book analytically...or at the very least sparknoted it.
- The scene before Bingley proposes and Darcy is coaching him on how he should propose to Jane!! It's ridiculous to think that Darcy could offer any advice to Bingley when he royally buggered up his own proposal to Lizzie. ILLOGICAL!
- The scene where Lizzie gushes over her love for Darcy with her father at the end. It was so annoyingly saccharine that I really wanted to puke. This is not meant to be a tawdry rom-com, it is AUSTEN.
And last but certainly not least is THE U.S. ENDING! THE U.S. ENDING! THE U.S. ENDING! THE U.S. ENDING! THE U.S. Ending!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
That pile of trash at the end...I can't...even...arhgijasbdviguabsfg!! *calming breaths*
Here I will give a comparison. In the wonderful movie Singin' in the Rain, do you remember the scene where the studio is making their first talking picture called the Dueling Cavalier? Gene Kelly's character stars in that movie and gives that ridiculous line "I love you. I love you. I love you" and then the whole audience bursts out laughing and declares the movie a failure. If not, watch this clip starting at 1:48 to get the full effect.
"Did somebody get paid for writing that dialogue?"
Well sir I would ask the same question about the dialogue in the U.S. Ending of this version of P&P when Darcy alternately kisses Lizzie and says "Mrs. Darcy Mrs. Darcy Mrs. Darcy Mrs. Darcy." Sadly, when this movie copies the Dueling Cavalier, critics and terrible audiences alike are cheering GAH!! The perfectly crappy way to end a perfectly crappy adaption of Pride and Prejudice.
With that last rant I finally declare my review completed. Someone will have to pay me a large sum of money to get me to watch this movie again. I plan on pretending this movie never exists, unless someone is considering watching or buying it, then I will speak up to save them from 2 hours of pure torture. I think we all know by now this is my choice for the worst adaption. Stay tuned for my next review, which I promise will be lighthearted and not full of rage induced rants. Best Wishes!!