It’s amazing how much my tastes have changed. If you were to ask me to watch this just a few years ago, I would have already written it off before even giving it a chance. You see, I used to believe that these period dramas/romances were all the same; slow, boring and predictable stories about two privileged individuals who inevitably fall in love. I would have much rather watched Iron Man beat the bad guy for the 50th time, not realising how contradictory my viewpoint was. Fast forward to today, I’m able to appreciate more forms of cinema than I could have ever dreamed of. So while past me may have been slightly right, Pride and Prejudice is a bit predictable and slow, I can now appreciate it for what it is: one of the best romances ever presented on screen.
Before I go any further, I feel like I must mention just how good the acting is. I could not imagine this film with a different cast. The chemistry between Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen is electric, keeping me glued to the screen whenever they’re in a scene together. What makes it all the more impressive is the way their feelings towards each other are portrayed. While the dialogue suggests that they loathe each other, their mannerisms such as eye contact, body language and hand flexes (one in particular) suggest otherwise. This nuanced form of acting is so subtle yet so effective. It builds an ever-present ‘will they won’t they’ tension that will stretch your heart to the limit.
As you’d expect from a Jane Austen adaptation, the writing is of the highest quality. Despite the age of the story, it never feels outdated. It challenges the assumptions we make about people because of their wealth and criticises the idea of marrying for money. Just because someone is rich, it doesn’t automatically make them a snob. Just because someone is poorer, it doesn’t mean that their life will be enhanced by money, especially if it means living with someone they’re appalled by.
The entirety of the film is shot extremely well, often utilising a sunrise or a sunset to make an already powerful scene hit even harder. When combined with the excellent score, it produces some truly breathtaking results. I was pleased to see that Chatsworth House was used for the filming of Mr Darcy’s estate. I’ve visited a few times and I couldn’t think of a better place to use. The equally spectacular interior and exterior made for a perfect backdrop to complement the jaw-dropping cinematography.
What impresses me the most with this film is that it doesn’t contain a single kiss in its entire run time*. A romance film without kissing. That’s like having an action film without any fighting. The strange thing is, it works. The character’s expressive gazes and stuttering side-steps around each other are more than enough to get your heart racing.
Hopefully, this review has convinced those who have not seen this film to go and watch it, those who have already seen this film to rewatch it, and those who disliked this film to give Iron Man a try. I am so very glad that I finally gave this a chance. Pride and Prejudice bewitched me, body and soul, and I love..I love..I loved it.
*I watched the international cut, the US version does involve a kissing scene.