Pride & Prejudice features some fine performances, lovely scenery and costumes and a serviceable script, but ultimately begs the question: why make another version of this beloved Jane Austen novel, especially after the wonderful 1995 BBC production starring Colin Firth?
Well, one answer is that Keira Knightley, playing Miss Elizabeth Bennet, looks ravishing in period dress. Another is that the film portrays a grittier, more realistic 19th century England. The feminist take on Charlotte's reasons for marrying Mr. Collins is also a welcome addition.
The film, however, has some unfortunate letdowns. Matthew MacFadyen (from the popular British spy drama Spooks) is a dull and lifeless Mr. Darcy, and the film ends with a maudlin "back from the honeymoon" scene that features an awkward nude calf. The director seems intent on fully exploiting the story's awkwardness, featuring in every scene a social gaffe or a moment of discomfort and embarrassment for the characters as well as the audience. The two-hour running time simply cannot do justice to the complexities of the plot; a case in point is the character of Jane (Rosamund Pike, fresh off of Doom) and her romance with Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods), which are both sadly pushed to the margins of the story. While an enjoyable and relatively faithful version, the latest Pride & Prejudice does not offer much that's new to lovers of the novel.