I got to pick what we watched on Valentine’s Day, so I picked the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, you know, the one with Keira Knightley. I saw it in the theater with my friend Queenie when it came out, but my husband G. Grod hadn’t seen it. He made buttered popcorn, I added a handful of spice drops, and we settled in.
Before I saw it way back when, I was prejudiced against Keira in the role of Lizzy. (I was going to refer to her by her last name, Knightley, but found that confusing in a review of an Austen-related work, no? Such a geek am I.) While Keira does have a pair of fine eyes in a pretty face, as Lizzy is described in the book, I think she’s perhaps beautiful rather than pretty, and thus takes away some of the every-woman aspect so important to the character.
But that was before I saw the film. Keira won me over. Her Lizzy has an infectious laugh, and her knowing glance at ironies is true to the character. Alas, the irony over class and social mores is more limited than in the book, and the movie focuses more on the romance between Lizzy and Darcy. And Matthew McFadyen, whom I loved in MI5, doesn’t seem quite up to the challenge of a complex Darcy. His Darcy shifts suddenly from grouch to suitor. I would have preferred a more gradual transformation. And the beginning, which lacks the famous opening line, and the end, which panders to ’shippers rather than Janeites, are serious drawbacks, to me. That said, many of the supporting cast is terrific–I like Sutherland as Mr. Bennet, Blethyn as Mrs., Dench as Lady Catherine is about as perfect casting as there is, and the little guy who plays Collins is hilarious. Additionally, I like the realistically grubby look of the Bennet’s home. So, good enough, but my favorite is still the 1995 miniseries with Colin Firth–more hours to do better justice to the text.