Last Thursday I took my final vacation day of 2005; this was my
schedule: rise at about 1030; shower; shave; walk down to the local
C.B. & Pott’s for a beer; walk over to the theatre to watch
Pride & Prejudice; walk back to the Pott’s for
some more beers; then walk on home. It was a nice day.
This rendition of Jane Austen’s classic is in some ways more
faithful than others, but overall I wasn’t all that impressed.
First, the good bit: Mr. Darcy is much more like he is
portrayed by Austen herself: aloof and unlikable. The problem is that
she dœsn’t really give us much reason for us to root for him
in the book, and this film dœsn’t either. As for the rest
of the cast, they turn in performances of varying quality. Donald
Sutherland was essentially phoning it in, which is a pity as the
character of Mr. Bennet is in some ways the most sympathetic of them
all. Brenda Blethyn dœs an excellent overwrought job as
Mrs. Bennet. Kelly Reilly is a non-entity as Miss Bingley—she
should have studied Anna Chancellor in the ’95 BBC/A&E
production. Rupert Friend is barely there as Mr. Wickham.
As for Miss Knightly (who plays the part of Miss Elizabeth Bennet,
our heroine), I found her more annoying than anything else. For one
thing, the director found it necessary for her to giggle at the most
inapt times. I’m not certain why this was done, save perhaps to
drive home the point that she’s younger than we would expect (in
two other places, references to brides of 15 are made, so perhaps this
was part of a scheme). Regardless, it’s a damned nuisance.
Girlish laughter is wonderful in its place, but silly
otherwise—and it’s definitely on the silly side in this
instance. Regarding Miss Knightly herself, I don’t find her all
that attractive: sure her figure has its appeal, and she has a lovely
long neck, but there’s something about her face which is a real
turn-off to me. She should be lovely, but somehow…isn’t.
Now, Jennifer Ehle isn’t a great beauty herself (and is in fact
less of one than Keira Knightly), but she is a fine actress with great
talents, and her portrayal of Miss Bennet was excellent; Knightly
hasn’t talent to fall back on. I will give her this much: she has
poor teeth, and yet is widely accounted a looker. I’m very
heartened by this: unlike so many actresses who starve themselves, who
suffer surgery and otherwise mold themselves to fit some imagined ideal,
Keira Knightly hasn’t bothered to get braces. There’s
something quite laudable in that. Now if only she were an actress to boot...
As an aside, I’ve always wanted to think that I’m Mr. Darcy, but I
rather fear that I’m actually Mr. Collins.