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P&P 200: Pride & Prejudice (2005) film Review

Continuing the 200th anniversary celebration of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice novel, with my thoughts, opinions, and review of Pride & Prejudice (2005) film (director: Joe Wright) starring Keira Knightley & Matthew Macfadyen.

I thought I'd saved the best for last...or rather my all-time favorite film adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Here's my long (and admittedly biased...well, this is after all, my most favorite P&P adaptation and this blog was named after and had started because of my love for this film) P&P 05 film review below...
Watch the Pride & Prejudice (2005) movie trailer

(source: oldhollywoodtrailers)

Pride & Prejudice
(2005) Synopsis

The glorious world of Jane Austen is at last brought back to the big screen in all its romance, wit, and emotional force in Pride & Prejudice. Faithful to the setting and period of the beloved novel and filmed entirely on location in the U.K., this is the first movie version of the story in 65 years.

The classic tale of love and misunderstanding unfolds in class-conscious England near the close of the 18th century. The five Bennet sisters Elizabeth, or Lizzie (Keira Knightley), Jane (Rosamund Pike), Lydia (Jena Malone), Mary (Talulah Riley), and Kitty (Carey Mulligan) – have been raised well aware of their mother's (two-time Academy Award nominee Brenda Blethyn) fixation on finding them husbands and securing set futures. The spirited and intelligent Elizabeth, however, strives to live her life with a broader perspective, as encouraged by her doting father (two-time Golden Globe Award winner Donald Sutherland).

When wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) takes up residence in a nearby mansion, the Bennets are abuzz. Amongst the man's sophisticated circle of London friends and the influx of young militia officers, surely there will be no shortage of suitors for the Bennet sisters. Eldest daughter Jane, serene and beautiful, seems poised to win Mr. Bingley's heart. For her part, Lizzie meets with the handsome and - it would seem - snobbish Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), and the battle of the sexes is joined. Read full synopsis here.

My Pride & Prejudice Film Review 

I love everything about this film from the first scene to the last one. The entire film was just simply amazing to watch. I must say, I've seen this film probably a million times now than I care to count (in fact, I have already lost count on how many times, lol...). Still, this film never failed to impressed me. The more I watch it, the more I love, love, love it! Thank goodness it's only 2 hours long as I can watch it 2-3 times a day if I have to or have the time to see it. It is just that addictive and fun to watch and that's without skipping a scene too. It's one of those few films that I can watch (the entire film) several times and never get tired of watching it. Not too mention, in this film adaptation of one of Jane Austen's six published classic novels, there are always new things I discover when watching random scenes I failed to noticed upon my first and previous viewings. This second only film version of P&P was a gem. In my opinion, it was the best version I've seen from several P&P TV/Film adaptations I've seen (ie. 1940, 1980, and 1995 mini-series versions to name a few). One of the best things about this film was its beautiful scenery. Such a brilliant and picturesque cinematography! Every shot was visually stunning from the first scene to the last. The opening scene in Pride & Prejudice was exquisitely shot and visually stunning. I love the colors of the sunrise. I love that it starts without the typical opening credits, just a simple title of the film and get to the story right away. It's just lovely and so incredible to watch. Lizzie Bennet walking and reading a book (on the DVD commentary by director Joe Wright mentioned that Lizzie was reading, "First Impressions," which was the first original title of Austen's P&P novel just before it was first published in 1797). I love the shot of Keira Knightley in character as Lizzie Bennet walking and reading her very own story. How ironic, as Lizzie in the book is "very fond of walking" and loves to read, hehe!

The locations used in this film were just beautiful and makes me want to go and visit the English countryside (which, in fact, I actually had the pleasure in visiting a few filming locations of this film back in September 2010: My first European trip (September 2010) and My First European Trip (part 2)) outside London. Another were the brilliant casting of actors as their ages were very close and accurate in terms of ages described in the novel. I thought it was perfect casting and this version definitely got the right cast and their ages especially the 5 young and beautiful actresses, who played the lovely Bennet sisters. They were similar or very close to the ages of the Bennet girls, their book counterparts that Austen created.

Not too mention the casting for both Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, in my opinion, were simply perfect.

Keira Knightley, in her first leading role, as the classic Austen heroine Elizabeth Bennet was simply amazing and superb! She carried this film with her name (in various P&P promo, publicity stills, and movie posters) elegantly and stood on her own as the main lead (for the first time) and protagonist of Austen's timeless 200-year-old story. I thought her Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (as Elizabeth Bennet for this film) was very well-deserved. Her acting here was at its finest. This was the film that got her lots of critical rave reviews for her acting and got her universal recognition as an actress. I must say, while I've always liked Miss Knightley, I was not a fan of her as an actress until after seeing her in this film and saw her playing the feisty and strong-willed Miss Elizabeth Bennet the way the character should've been played. She really turned into Austen's Elizabeth Bennet in this film and made me believed that she was that character (and had a lasting impression, even when I re-read the novel, she was or rather her image of Elizabeth Bennet is the one I often picture when I think of the character and what she would look and act like after seeing her in this film). It was even amazing to find out Keira was exactly the same age, 20 (even younger at 19 when she was filming this movie) as her book counterpart in the novel when this film was released. She brought authenticity and accuracy to her Lizzie Bennet role in terms of age, youthful look, and spirited nature as described of her character from the novel. I thought she really shined in this film as she never did before in her previous films (where she was often in small or supporting roles such as Bend It Like Beckham, the first Pirates movie, and Love Actually to name a few) prior to seeing her on this one. She ruled the screen! I was immersed in watching her as EB in every scene she appeared in right from the opening to the end. This was the first film where I actually saw her as a really good actress capable of playing a strong heroine character. In this film, she portrayed her Elizabeth Bennet character with beauty, elegance, pride, stubbornness, liveliness, sarcasm, quick-witted, and intelligence...as well as kind, caring, loyal (to her family) and with good sense of humor. She showed her "dearly love to laugh" EB character trait in some scenes too. Plus Keira definitely has "fine eyes" (which the camera perfectly captured in her close-up shots in various scenes) and "a light and pleasing figure" that the novel described her EB character. Keira Knightley's incredible performance here made me love Austen's Elizabeth Bennet character as I never have before. She was and will always will be my favorite Elizabeth Bennet. After seeing her in this film, I couldn't picture anyone else playing EB in this film version of P&P, but her. I loved that this film was true to the heart and spirit of the original novel, as it centers around Keira's Elizabeth Bennet's point of view, and we're seeing the story unfolds through her eyes as she interacts with the other characters and go through the events as it happens in her life's story, which as it should be.

Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy was terrific and superb. I must say I have never seen nor heard of Matthew Macfadyen prior to seeing him in this 2005 Pride & Prejudice film. So, my first impression of him as Mr. Darcy in this P&P movie was that I didn't love him at first sight/glance, but I did grew to love him the more I see of him and as the film progressed, especially when he first held Lizzie's hand in the carriage and I had the same unexpected look as Lizzie did, lol...plus the first proposal scene (He owned this line: "I love you. Most ardently."), the Pemberley scenes (to see him unexpectedly smile for the first time and briefly too was just one of the many amazing Darcy moments seen in this film...one of my favorite scenes to replay over and over whenever I go back and re-watch this film), the most romantic second proposal scene (he owned this line too: "You have bewitched me body and soul. And I love, I love, I love you. I never wished to be parted from you from this day on."), and the romantic Mrs. Darcy (the actual ending scene with his "Mrs. Darcy...Mrs. Darcy...Mrs. Darcy...Mrs. Darcy....Mrs. Darcy..." (who wouldn't want to hear him say that to you and kiss you 5x in the face at the same time, right? as he did and demonstrated to his beloved Elizabeth...aka Mrs. Darcy) and at every scene he appeared on-screen on this film. I couldn't help, but asked on my very first viewing of P&P movie (back in 2005), who this mysterious handsome man (with a beautiful blue eyes and a very Darcysexylicious voice) was? He fascinated, intrigued, keep me interested and glued on big screen watching him in this beautiful film. The next thing I knew, I was looking him up on google, IMDB, checking out his fansites, and watching his other movies (I could find) that he co-starred/starred/appeared in. I became a big MM fan after seeing him in this movie, all because of his Darcy role and his amazing portrayal of the iconic and beloved Austen character. In my humble opinion, I thought Matthew played the best Darcy (he was closer in age too, Darcy in the novel was 28. MM was 29 when he was filming this movie and 30 when the film was released) and he just portrayed the iconic role superbly with vulnerability, passion, and emotions, which I didn't see from other Darcy actors portrayed before and after him. He transformed himself completely into the Darcy character (that all I saw from Matthew was DARCY and not Matthew, the actor as himself...so, I was immersed and intrigued watching him as this enigmatic Mr. Darcy, Austen has created) and made him so believable as the arrogant, snub, proud, and stubborn (in outside appearance), yet shy, reserve, quiet, awkward, vulnerable, kind, generous, caring, and loving/romantic (on the inside and whenever he was around Lizzie privately in later scenes) in the film. I may not have loved him instantly at the beginning, but as the film progressed and along the way towards the end, I was bewitched and in love with his Darcy (as his Elizabeth did). If not for his brilliant performance of Darcy in this movie, I wouldn't have discovered this very talented, brilliant, and versatile character actor that is Matthew Macfadyen (and he's handsome to look at too!). He is such a fantastic character actor, underrated and has this incredible voice too! Just like his leading lady, Keira Knightley and her Elizabeth Bennet, he brought his Darcy character to life with his incredible performance in this film. For me, he was and will always be the best Darcy (and my favorite version too) actor. I can't imagine anyone else playing his version of Mr. Darcy or seeing Keira with another actor playing his Darcy in this film. He was, for me, simply the best actor to play Mr. Darcy. Glad he was cast in this film (which he was actually the first choice for director Joe Wright and the producers of this film). Whenever I re-read the novel or read its prequels, sequels, variations, and inspired novels, Matthew's Darcy emerges and comes to mind and is always the one I think of and pictured in my head (as well as Keira's Elizabeth...and their scenes from the movie replays in my head...). While I liked and enjoyed other Darcy actors (what's not to like? they're all good looking and good actors too), MM is just the one that made me take notice and love his Darcy portrayal more. He was and will always will be my favorite Mr. Darcy.
While others may love and prefer Colin Firth's Darcy, I'll happily take Mr. MacFadyen's Darcy walking across the misty morning field to tell Elizabeth, "You have bewitched me, body and soul. And I love, I love, love you." (How can any woman say no to that?) at sunrise over Mr. Firth's Darcy jumping with his shirt on, on a dirty pond/lake...any and everyday, hahaha...!

Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet & Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy complimented each other perfectly well. When I watch them together, they are Elizabeth & Darcy. They get my attention every time they appear on every scene they were on together. Like their Netherfield ball dance scene, in which they danced to "A Postcard to Henry Purcell," and suddenly the other dancers around them disappears as if they were the only ones dancing. These two were just simply brilliant and beautiful together. I just love them as Elizabeth & Darcy. They are definitely my all-time favorite Elizabeth & Darcy pairing.
Macfadyen & Knightley portray their characters perfectly and their chemistry in this film was off the charts. They have this undeniable on-screen chemistry and they sizzled on-screen whenever they appear in the same scene, opposite or next to each other. They simply owned these iconic characters on-screen and in my opinion, they were simply perfect as Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy.
Another one of the many amazing things about this film was its outstanding ensemble cast. I loved that the producers and Joe Wright's decision was to cast the actors (Keira & Matthew as Elizabeth & Darcy, Rosamund & Simon as Jane & Bingley, and the younger Bennet Sisters including Talulah Riley as Mary, Carey Mulligan as Kitty, and Jena Malone as Lydia) "according to their characters' ages in the book. A young cast for the story about first love." Then, they balanced their young cast with brilliant vets like Donald Sutherland (Mr. Bennet), Brenda Blethyn (Mrs. Bennet), Penelope Wilton (Mrs. Gardiner), Peter Wigh (Mr. Gardiner), and Judi Dench (as Lady Catherine). They added weight and experience to this beautiful film's youthful and talented cast. The rest of the cast (Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins, Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley, Claudie Blakley as Charlotte Lucas, Tamzin Merchant as Georgiana Darcy, and Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham) were just as brilliant. Every small part or character (ie. the Netherfield butler, Betsy the maid, Mr. & Mrs. Hill, and Pemberley housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds) contributed to the whole story. The music and score were simply beautiful, memorable, and unforgettable to listen to. They were just perfect to hear in every scene. The costumes were exquisite and colorful. I thought the direction in this film was brilliant and Joe Wright was superb (he became one of my favorite directors after seeing this film). I can't believe he didn't get an Oscar nomination for this film. Not too mention Dario Marianelli didn't even win for such a beautiful score for P&P. Such a shame that he didn't win as I thought his P&P score and music he did for the soundtrack was his best work...at least in my opinion. Oh, well...he at least got nominated. Though he won for Atonement's score, instead. P&P's music should've been the one that should've won him an Oscar. The stunningly gorgeous cinematography (loved the long-tracking shots especially at the Netherfield Ball), unfortunately, didn't garner recognition it deserved...was also snubbed by the Golden Globe and Oscars. Oh, well, not that the GG or Oscars pick the best films to nominate and win anyways. A lot of very good films often get ignored come awards season, that doesn't make them any less good than the ones that got noticed and won. P&P, at least got 4 Oscar nominations, 2 Golden Globe, and 6 BAFTAs to name some and made a lot of money with its Box-Office gross ($121+ million) worldwide. So, what it lacks on Golden Globe and Oscar wins...gained lots of fans and B.O. gross/money for the film, which what's really important and count the most than winning countless awards.

Focus Features' Pride & Prejudice film version was just simply exquisite and a masterpiece on its own. It's not just another movie that after seeing it, you won't even go back and see it again. It requires multiple viewings to appreciate the little things and details shown in the film that the brilliant and hard working cast and crew had put together into this beautiful film. This is one of the few films I can watch many times and never get tired of it. It just never gets old in my viewing. I've been watching this movie since 2005 and almost 8 years later, I still love it even more than the first time I've seen it. That's how amazing and brilliant this film was. It ages beautifully, like a fine wine. I just love everything about this film. From the brilliant and lush cinematography by Roman Osin. Every single shot he captured in this film was a visual treasure from the opening scene to the last scene. The incredible ensemble cast was a gem in this film as their acting were superb starting from the main leads Keira Knightley & Matthew Macfadyen to the rest of the equally talented supporting cast assembled here. The classical music and score in this film (and P&P original soundtrack) by Dario Marianelli was simply beautiful, timeless, and complemented this film. The art direction and production design by Sarah Greenwood with Katie Spencer were just as great as the colorful and vibrant costume designs by Jacqueline Durran. Joe Wright's brilliant and superb direction in this film (made his cast brilliant with their acting here especially Keira Knightley, which this film started their wonderful working relationship and friendship, enough to do multiple, successful film collaborations together). The screenplay, which was brilliantly adapted by Deborah Moggach made this version of P&P with the most memorable and quotable lines/dialogues. She added cleverly written and memorable witty one-liners (ie. "A Mrs. Bennet, A Miss Bennet, A Miss Bennet, and a Miss Bennet, sir", "Oh, my goodness. Everybody behave naturally...", and "We are all fools in love" to name a few, you won't forget after hearing it) not in the book to add something fresh and new and to make this version its own, but at the same time still kept a lot of similar lines (worded differently, yet still similar in meaning that it made it more easier for you to understand more so than the actual words from the novel) in tact to remain true to Austen's classic written dialogue. As Moggach wonderfully said, “I’ve sort of pulled a comb through the dialogue; of course, you can’t reproduce Austen’s fiercely wonderful dialogue in its entirety. But we’ve kept quite a lot of it, because it’s like cooking with the very, very best ingredients. People love the book so much that they know it word for word. It was tempting sometimes to veer scenes towards a line that is so loved, one which you know that if people miss it they will be very upset.” And last, but not least the beautiful filming locations (see Photos: P&P Filming Locations). I love that this film was shot entirely on location on the beautiful English countryside and that the Peak District, Lambton Inn (Haddon Hall), and Pemberley (Chatsworth House) in Derbyshire scenes (Jane Austen described in P&P novel) were actually shot in Derbyshire as it should be, making this film unique, more accurate and authentic location-wise (especially for Darcy's hometown of Derbyshire and Pemberley estate as described in the novel) than any P&P versions past and present.

Overall, I thought Joe Wright's adaptation of Austen's Pride & Prejudice is the best, in my opinion, and my most favorite of them all (from numerous adaptations I've seen and have posted reviews here. See all my ). This was the P&P version that made me love Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice novel (and all things P&P). I must admit, I was not a fan of the book before this, but after seeing this film, it made me buy my own copy and finally read the whole book (as I was not interested in reading it back in my HS literature class because I could never get into it...probably because of its Old English style of writing and dialogue that was hard for me to understand back when I was much younger...). This film did and made me love the book and understand it more. So, I will always love and have a soft spot for this film. What's not to love? Plus, the two hours length of time was perfect for this version. It may not seem like it on your first viewing, but it makes you yearn for more and makes you wish it was longer. The rest you can read in Jane Austen's 200-year-old masterpiece Pride and Prejudice novel, the original source to this adaptation, as you're supposed to. You don't need every detail or word for word to see it visually as its impossible to translate every page and chapter by chapter into the big screen. Besides, you can read the rest in the book for more. The movie basically gives you a nice summarize version of the novel, for those who don't like reading and the book gives you more for those who love to read (as well as to watch its adapted version). I thought this movie and the book are a perfect companions of each other. A lot of the things omitted (mostly minor characters and events) I didn't see in the movie from the novel (as it's impossible to translate on the big screen on its entirety into a 2-hour film) I can go back and read in the novel. If I want to see stunningly gorgeous visuals, entertaining and engaging characters, events, and dreamy locations, I can always watch this movie any time of the day or daily (and will never get tired of watching it). I highly recommend you watch this movie, if you haven't already or have not the pleasure in seeing it yet.

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