Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

The new film starring Keira “Twice” Knightley and Matthew “Who?” Macfadyen is played with a straight bat by director Joe Wright, in his debut feature film, the first film adaptation of the novel for 65 years. Although never going surpass the definitive nineties BBC adaptation, the film is a fair, if unadventurous, stab at the classic period romance. The comedy is certainly handled well, a superlative Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennett - apparently her last role before retirement - by far the best thing in it. Anchored by nice parts for Donald Sutherland, seemingly doing his best Michael Gambon impression, and Judi Dench, donning her well-worn regal air as the Duchess, the film proceeds at a brisk pace through the various turmoils and travails, reaching its destination with a certain inevitability, rather like a train pulling into a station.

I did wonder if I was being churlish, however, in sensing a definite lack at the centre of things; while Knightley is good at the comedy, the forthrightness and the being pretty aspects of the part there is an unfortunate sense that she doesn’t actually fancy Mr Darcy very much at all. At times, as they to-and-fro between despising and adoring each other, you find yourself wondering what she actually sees in him, a fairly major fault in such a definitive romance. Macfadyen, though he handles the acting requirements well enough, just doesn’t seem to have it in him to make her swoon. Very rarely do they occupy they same screen and I wondered whether when they filmed her doing sultry, they didn't have to stick a cardboard cut-out of someone else in front of her.