Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Drama, Romance
Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland
Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
Sure, it's another adaptation of cinema's fave Jane Austen novel, but key performances and a modern filmmaking sensibility make this familiar period piece fresh and enjoyable.
  • Focus Features Company:
  • PG Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 23 Nov 2005 Released:
  • 28 Feb 2006 DVD Release:
  • $38.3M Box office:

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Minor errors? But Pride was constipation, they forgot Prejudice. And Austen come to that.2/10
Well Wright may have made a gritty depiction of life around 1800 - as he so repeatedly and anally goes on about because of when it was written as opposed to published - but it is HIS not Austen's and shouldn't claim to be an adaptation.

Mrs Bennett looks like a rural washerwoman. This is a pampered woman - they have servants (remember the book scene with the servant dressing the hair, etc)? But Wright portrays her with rough reddened skin all down her chest, rough hands and working in the kitchen. And the pigs wandering through! If he wants bucolic, he should try Tess.

Mr Bennett - the script makes too cuddly and modern and ignored the weakness in him. The scene where he stops Mary playing is supposed to make you cringe - not pass in seconds. If it doesn't - don't include it.

MacFadyen is very weak in the part and seems to be doing some kind of Pride by numbers acting. The first proposal he looks like a nervous schoolboy rather than a man overcoming his pride to make a proposal beneath his station. Most of his lines, he could as well be reading a shopping list.

Lydia is awful. Completely over the top with excessive shrieking and skipping. Indeed, Knightley plays Elizabeth more like the giggling inane character Lydia actually is in the book, at times.

And Elizabeth. Half the time Knightley is, clearly, mimicking Ehle's voice and intonation - close your eyes to see what a copy it is. And in her role you see Wright's major error - there is NO PREJUDICE.

From the first encounter with Darcy she clearly fancies him. When he comments to Bingley on the attractiveness of the women in the hall she initially looks hurt - not shocked and affronted. The latter should set up the prejudice side of things. And when she and 'caroline' are prancing round the room she comes across like a tease, obviously all over him. And by virtually cutting out Wickham you don't get Elizabeth invested enough there to set up the prejudicial aspects falling out of that relationship.

And apparently it is Caroline not Miss Bingley. And Mr Bingley happily wanders into Jane's bedroom. And and and - Wright can boast about how great he is with period all he wants. But a few panorama shots of rural life (which show the preference for Hardy) don't excuse him the glaring blunders all over the place.

The cinematographer - who clearly wants awards - should have been reined in. He veered between Bronte and Hardy throughout the film - and wasn't the last proposal shots/lighting from Tess? The need to see Darcy walk along through the 'scape with unkempt shirt was just dumb. But most importantly - when going between those 2 very different landscapes they forget the most important one - Austen. (She'd have laughed out loud at the Elizabeth = sad, therefore = rain, running through to picturesque folly, wet Darcy rubbish).

I admit I found it impossible the watch the film without using the book as context. I was prepared to give it some leeway as it had to provide the story in a short space of time. But to forget fully one half of the core of the book in prejudice and Darcy to continually look more constipated than prideful, made it almost unwatchable. I could only see it as a mess with generally poor performances (when Knightley wasn't aping Ehle she was gurning or skipping or both and only calmed down a couple of times to indicate she does have some promise - but faffing about on swings to convey emotion isn't a substitute for a poor script and poor direction) - although for some it was simply a case of bad script.

Tom Holland alone would escape censure. While he toned down the comic aspects of Collins, he did turn in a very interesting approach. Dench does superbly the schtick she can do in her sleep whether it be here or in Oscar Wilde - but this was supposed to be Lady Catherine De Bourgh NOT Lady Bracknell. She was just a little too sane.

The shortened length could have been handled by a competent screenwriter, surely? Not characters filling in story gaps and helping along the audience all over the place. Elizabeth couldn't have come up with the £10k figure. And while they wanted to cut time with her learning of Darcy's involvement in Wickhams marriage the lines didn't fit with Lydia. It was the worst case of incongruous exposition in the piece.

It really is appalling stuff. Anyone who reviews it saying it works well in the context of the book is someone I frankly don't believe has read or understood the characterisations in the thing. Wright seems to think his characters are in the 1990s not the 1709s from their behaviour. I'm not convinced he has read the book - he certainly doesn't understand it. He doesn't understand Austen's acerbic wit or lightness of touch - he certainly made a dull plodding film out of it.

What is possibly worse was the sad pathetic need of the chick lit lovers to need the 'I love you, I love yous' all over the place so they can sigh and get off on it. The fact that it has no place in a work by Austen is apparently irrelevant.

Anyone who reviews it as a film alone? Well, more difficult for me except I would note the poor acting, the weak Darcy, and the gurning skipping inane irritation of the whole thing. If you are going to adapt you can change a lot - but if it loses the spirit and key motivations, then don't insult the book by taking it's title.
Jane Austen for ever10/10
Jane Austen's tale of love and economics reaches us once more with the energy of a thorough novelty. "Pride and Prejudice" has been a favorite novel of mine since I first read it and I've seen Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and now Matthew MacFadyen and Kiera Knightly. Amazingly enough I've never been disappointed. The material seems to be full proof. Colin Firth's Darcy, in many ways, is the Darcy I've always imagined. He's been an actor I've followed feverishly since his glorious Adrian LeDuc in "Apartment Zero", Matthew MacFadyen was totally new to me but he managed to create that sense of longing that makes that final pay off so satisfying. Kiera Knightly is a ravishing revelation. I must confess, I didn't remotely imagined that she was capable of the powerful range she brilliantly shows here. The other big surprise is Joe Wright, the director, in his feature film debut which is more than promising, it's extraordinary. The photography, the art direction and the spectacular supporting cast, in particular Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn, makes this new version of a perennial classic a memorable evening at the movies
Jane Austen is spinning in her grave.1/10
This film is one of the worst adaptations of Pride and Prejudice ever filmed and if Jane Austen were alive, she would demand that her name be removed from the film. Austen's novel is only superficially a story of the development of true love between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. It is also a commentary on the class structure of Regency Britain. This film focuses only on the love story, thereby disappointing viewers who hoped it would do justice to the novel.

There are numerous problems with the historical accuracy of the film. In the film, the dance at which Darcy snubs Elizabeth is not the refined dancing done by the gentry, to which the Bennet, Lucas, Bingley, and Darcy families belong, but is rather the dancing of the lower classes. The gentry would not have been dancing as if they were at a peasant barn dance. There are costume and hair problems, too. The custom of the period required married women to wear white cloth hats to cover their hair and for women to wear bonnets when outdoors. Women of the Regency period were not so liberated as to forego the bonnet requirements in public. The worst historical inaccuracy is the early morning meeting of Elizabeth (in her nightgown and coat) and Mr. Darcy (sans cravat and vest) at which they admit their love for each other. This is an unforgivable liberty with the novel. No respectable young woman or gentleman would venture out of doors in such a state of undress or seek to meet someone of the opposite sex at such an early hour.

But the worst thing of all with this film is the mangling of Austen's dialogue and the atrocious modern dialogue. Austen's dialogue needs no assistance from a writer who thinks he/she can write like Austen. The writer of the non-Austen dialogue not only lacks Austen's talent but also has no feel for Austen's style. The juxtaposition of the two styles is jarring.

As for the acting, the best is done by Judi Dench, who clearly understands the imperiousness of the aristocracy. Brenda Blethyn takes some liberties in making Mrs. Bennet less awful than Austen's portrayal. Her portrayal is interesting and seems to work. Donald Sutherland is miscast. His affected British accent is terrible and he portrays Mr. Bennet too much as a father of the 20th century and not a father of the late 18th century. Matthew MacFadeyn's portrayal of Darcy is flat. I can't imagine anyone falling in love with his Mr. Darcy. Keira Knightly is a pretty Elizabeth, but her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet is far too modern. Knightly focuses on the Elizabeth's forthrightness, but her portrayal completely lacks an understanding of the social mores and conventions of the time. She would have done well to actually read the novel before attempting to portray Elizabeth and to do research on the behavior of women of the period.

If one is making a period movie, one must be true to the period. This film needed an historical adviser who actually knows something about the Regency period. It also needed a writer who has a better appreciation and understanding of Austen's text. I can only hope Emma Thompson decides to do a film of Pride and Prejudice in the near future to erase this abomination from our minds.

The best thing that can be said about this film is that it contains many pretty scenes of the English countryside. Chatsworth is well used as Pemberly (as it was in the 1995 BBC adaptation). But pretty scenery and pretty actors cannot save this film. True fans of Austen will rush home to watch their DVDs of the far superior 1995 BBC production with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth or to read Austen's text in order to wipe this version from their minds.
Spirited Modern Interpretation of Austen's Classic Love Story9/10
A "modernised" version of Jane Austen's classic novel that should not be compared unfavourably with 1940 Hollywood Olivier / Garson version nor several BBC serials culminating in the most acclaimed TV series version from 1995 with Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle-a personal favourite.

This 2005 film clocks in 127 minutes (UK / Europe)& 135 minutes (USA & Canada) -the extended version allowing audiences to share more of the timeless love story with the main characters -Elizabeth Bennet & Mr Darcy.

Director Joe Wright plus his screenwriters ( Oscar winner Emma Thompson contributed to the final screenplay) have chosen to emphasise Elizabeth Bennet / Mr Darcy plus Jane Bennet/ Mr Bingley story lines & reduce Mr Wickman, Charlotte & Mr Collins to supporting characters.

Austen's famous wit,satire & humour that forms the basis for her enduring appeal (Pride & Prejudice was finally published in 1813 & continues as an annual bestseller)is sidelined to open up this version as more emotional drama for modern audiences.

If you are open to a newer interpretation, can avoid comparisons to the nearly 5 hour 1995 TV version which allowed for greater depth & detail in telling all the characters story lines & accept some of the new film's rushed story lines-you are in for a treat .....

New British star Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet))excels in her first real leading actress role ably supported by fellow Brit Rosamund Pike (Jane Bennet) as the sisters supportive of each other's & their Bennett family problems.Knightley at 20 is the right age for her character,this allows Elizabeth's girlish personality plus her character's pride, misjudgements & loving nature to shine through....

Great star turns from Brenda Blethyn as their mother Mrs Bennet plus Oscar winner Judi Dench as fearsome Lady De Bourgh (Mr Darcy's aunt)add depth to this film version.Claudie Blakley as Elizabeths's wise friend Charlotte Lucas & Simon Wood's amusing Mr Bingley are delightful supporting performers.

One major surprise is Canadian actor Donald Sutherland's touching performance as Mr Bennet -capturing both the humour of living in an all female household & five daughters to look after with the poignancy of seeing his eldest children's difficult relationships develop -easily his best acting performance in years.

In the difficult role of Mr Darcy rising British star Matthew Macfadyen (BBC's Spy series Spooks & Award winning New Zealand film "In My Father's Den" rises to the occasion.With the short running time, there is not enough time to allow Darcy's repressed & prejudiced personality to be fully represented -Macfadyen perfectly displays Darcy's social & class problems, his unfortunate attempts at gaining Eliabeth Bennet's interest & his painful adjustments to achieve their personal love story.Macfayden & Knightley's objectionable first dance,their embarrassingly moving Collins House meeting,the unexpected Pemberley encounter plus their two proposal scenes are highlights of this film.

Engaging acting performances with wondrous film photography,film locations at some of United Kingdom's most famous stately homes, marvellous film sets & costumes plus one of 2005's best original music scores add greatly to this new film version.

All in all one of the better films of 2005 -not perfect film making and not intended to be as subtle as Austen's novel -but a wonderful surprise with some changes to present a modern version of Pride & Prejudice for current audiences -do see this film as & when it is released worldwide....

And after seeing the film or re-visiting 1995 BBC TV series -read the original novel for its classic storyline, memorable characters & Austen's brilliant writing style,wit & humour.....

9 Out Of 10 for this different interpretation of an enduring classic
Outstanding...MacFadyen is a worthy Darcy.10/10
Outstanding ... MacFadyen is a worthy Darcy and a darned good actor to boot! The scenery, backgrounds, and country folk were much more realistic than previous versions. The costumes and hairdos also seemed in keeping with the times. Another great addition is the priceless Donald Sutherland who, in a perfect world, would have had more scenes with Judy Densch. If those two can't chew up the scenery, nobody can. And, finally, Keira Knightly is a jewel. Her beauty is so apparent that it almost detracts from the fact that this is a very good actress who can hold her own in any room. This was a delight and I only wish that it could have been 6 hours long.