This most recent film adaptation of a Jane Austen classic took me by surprise in nearly every way. Directed by newcomer Joe Wright, Pride & Prejudice is astounding for its technical perfection, its unique style, its intelligent humor, and its believable romance.
The story relates the Bennet family's attempts to marry off their five daughters, centering on Elizabeth, played by Kiera Knightley. She is an honest, intelligent, and courageous woman who desires and expects real happiness, defying the frivolity of the world around her. Her love-hate relationship with the enigmatic Mr. Darcy motivates the narrative. This is authentic romance: attraction, perplexity, tenderness, forgiveness, virtue.
While not an Austen expert, I consider myself quite a fan, and this adaptation captures both her genuine love of romance and her wry critique of society's ridiculous pretenses. Wright communicates volumes in the details of his images, as Austen does in her prose. In this environment, a simple curtsy can speak louder than many words, conveying cold civility, romantic tension, or thinly veiled disdain, all in the subtlety of the gesture.
Pride & Prejudice