10 out of 10
How could words, written nearly 200 years ago, fill a cinema until its teaming with fresh laughter, leave not a dry eye in the house and bring everyone to their feet in an applause, the warmth of which I have not heard in years? Jane Austin's book is not just another costume drama focused on some folks in a bygone world, but a powerful drama as it exposes a common weakness in all of our souls. Few truly understand that word PREJUDICE is not just being mean for a spurious reason like race, but the establishment of a conclusion before consideration of any facts... to pre-judge. As such, her book remains as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1813 by showing how the simple, obvious and pure can be ruined through the needless complication and petty rules to which we can all be guilty at times.
Despite living a comfortable enough life, the aging farmer Bennet and his wife face a growing dilemma: with no son, the farm he works will go to a relative, leaving his family homeless and penniless upon his death. Open about their situation, his wife and he proceed to search for potential husbands for his five daughters, however, not only do they encounter deep resistence from one of them, Lizzie, a freespirited girl who feels no qualms in "speaking decidedly" out, but also general concern about their gold-digging intents.
At an early point in the story, Lizzie and her sisters encounter Mr.Darcy and Mr Bingley who has a yearly income of 5,000 pounds per year, ($12,000 Canadian) a fabulous sum for that era and who have several wealthy friends. With the girls falling in love with them, it would seem like a blessing from the heavens for the Bennets, but the situation becomes complicated as the parents try to push daughters at the wrong men, the associated families seeing the Bennetts as merciless when they are merely trying to a save their children from a future in the poorhouse, the resentment of Lizzie at what the interference in her life and those around her etc... and so a perfect set of potential marriages becomes a complex mess... and all through the characters having wrongful perceptions of others and their refusal to accept their own mistakes.
Despite being a veteran of over 130 major movies, Canadian-born Donald Sutherland has clearly gone to lengths to avoid dominating the screen, and, quite correctly, masterfully supports a magnificent British cast withl Matthew MacFadyen as the man-of-stone Darcy, Talulah Riley as Mrs Bennett and Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennett. Leading the cast as Lizzie, the girl with some of the best put-down lines of all time, Keira Knightley once again shows the raw ineptitude of Hollywood in finding a suitable role of quality for her talent in the USA by turning in another heartreding performance for the British film industry that has to be her finest to date.
Unfortunately, the word "awe" has become devalued in time as a result of "word inflation", the modern day overuse of superlatives. This is saddening as Pride & Prejudice leaves one in awe at the spendour of it's setting.as it was filmed at some of England's most glorious stately homes and amongst the breathtaking rolling beauty of English countryside that leave one in utter awe, recreating the funal years before the smog and pollution of the industrial revolution.
Made by Working Title Films, a British production company that has been responsible for numerous quality movies including "The Big Lebrowski", "Capt Corelli's Mandolin", "Elizabeth", "Four Weddings & A Funeral" and "Wimbledon", this is a film of truly rare quality.
If you can overcome your own prejudice that old means stuffy and boring, you'll find a light, witty and enchanting tale that's certain to entertain and a crime to miss!
Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett