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The not so well to do Bennets of Georgian England have five daughters, including strong-willed Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and eldest sister Jane (Rosamund Pike), whose mother (Brenda Blethyn) has one purpose left in her life: finding a husband for them. Preferably with a good inheritance. When the rich Mr Bingley (Simon Woods) arrives in the county for the summer with his sister (Kelly Reilly) and even richer friend Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), the Bennet household is thrown into delicious disarray. Who will snare which man and why is Mr Darcy so aloof... Class, misunderstandings and jealousy seem to stand in the way of true love, much to the confusion of world weary Mr Bennet (Donald Sutherland), and much to the consternation of his wife.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The mother of all romantic comedies, Pride and Prejudice is a double decker (with a sidecar) in which the matters of the heart are squarely posited against matters of the pocket. Sat at a time when women without prospects of marriage faced a desultory future, the importance of finding a suitable suitor was as much a matter of pragmatism as of romance. Director Joe Wright manages to convey the urgency of the matter in a film that respects author Jane Austen's sharp writing without falling foul of it.

Handsome to look at, too, the film pivots on our attachment to the characters, especially Lizzie (Keira Knightley), Jane (Rosamind Pike) and Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen). All three deliver the goods, although there are moments early in the film in which Macfadyen borders on a caricature of Colin Frith in Bridget Jones's Diary, his face an emotion free zone. This reserve has a later payoff, of course, and the direction maintains a great sense of energy, countering the slower rhythms of Georgian speech and manners.

Brenda Blethyn is entertaining as the hyperventilating mother, and Donald Sutherland is a delightful counter balance, with the younger daughters a blur of energy and excitement. Keira Knightley carries the film's emotional weight on her shoulders and does it with aplomb, her sulky intelligence contrasting with that impish smile.

The film comes at a time when its themes and its story are so out of context with world affairs as to be refreshing.

Review by Louise Keller:
The story may not be new, but the film is fresh, as it explores the complexities of love in 18th century England, bringing Jane Austen's indelible characters to life. It's hard to believe this is only the second film version of Pride and Prejudice, if you don't count Gurinder Chadha 's recent Bollywood version. Back in 1940, Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier played the unlikely lovers, but it is not Olivier's Mr Darcy that comes to mind, when I think of the awkward-in-love, snobbish boor Darcy, but Colin Firth, who simply embodies the strong, silent type.

Here, it's Matthew Macfayden who takes on Darcy, opposite the impishly beautiful Keira Knightley, as the outspoken Lizzie, who is unimpressed or intimidated by class distinction. Of course the story is set at a time when social etiquette and position is everything, and for a young woman, everything hinges on how well you marry. It's no wonder Brenda Blethyn's Mrs Bennet is hyperactively hysterical, irritatingly so. After all, she has not one, but five daughters to marry off. Donald Sutherland's Mr Bennet is a suitable contrast, while Rosamund Pike shines as the eldest daughter, whose heart is stolen by the well to-do neighbouring Mr Bingley (Simon Wood). There are plenty of girlish giggles from corseted belles, who are shown off by their mother, like the swans that grace the nearby lakes.

Visually lush with its sweeping hills, lush gardens and picturesque English settings, Pride and Prejudice engages by its good storytelling and well formed characters. Music, production design and costumes are detailed and exquisite, never allowing the magic of the era that director Joe Wright so carefully builds, to dissipate. Knightley is charming and Macfayden successfully creates a complex Darcy. There's instant chemistry between them, and in keeping with the modesty of the day, the nearest we get to a kiss, is a tight close up on the moors, when they at last both realise the depth of their feelings.

It's involving, amusing and always entertaining. A film that will appeal to all ages.

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(UK, 2005)

CAST: Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Judi Dench

PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster

DIRECTOR: Joe Wright

SCRIPT: Deborah Moggach (novel by Jane Austen)


EDITOR: Paul Tothill

MUSIC: Dario Marianelli


RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 20, 2005

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