This lavish rendering of Jane Austen turns out to be an ideal fit for Keira Knightley, rebounding from her darker turn as a bounty hunter in Domino.
Pride & Prejudice was given the bollywood treatment earlier this year by Gurinder Chadha to low box-office returns despite an undeniable sheer exuberance. Director Joe Wright brings a contemporary realism to this latest telling of the Bennet sisters in 18th Century England that has more emotional resonance than expected, even if it gets overwrought near the coda.
Brenda Blethyn is Mrs. Bennet who frets about her five daughters not having the kind of life she expects. Being married is essential for young women from families not on the upper-class strata. Her husband (Donald Sutherland) is a bit frazzled after living with six women for his whole life.
The screenplay has an efficient consolidated quality to it and Deborah Moggach lets us see it all through the point of view of second daughter Elizabeth (a very comely Knightley). Lizzie will be pitted against a rather sullen, snobbish, and initially cold Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). Of course, she'll find love in time in a way that catches her off guard.
The target audience will find that while the story and characters are nothing new, the filmmakers and actors having an invigorating effect. Wright works impressively from a production standpoint with lensing that smoothly eavesdrops using Elizabeth's frame of reference to full personal impact. And the costumes and designs are luxuriant without calling attention to themselves.