Last night I watched the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice with my sister.
I haven't read the book. But I think I can safely say this new movie doesn't do it justice.
We begin with the first of several too-precious tracking shots as Elizabeth Bennet(Keira Knightley) moves through her household, wherein her mother, father, and sisters are busy doing business for the camera while the music and lighting are of sorts most bulimics would find serviceable.
Throughout the film, sweeping vistas and pummelling crescendos are employed by director Joe Wright to continually remind us what a great and rousing adventure this is. Occasionally he feels forced to acknowledge that Pride and Prejudice is actually an intellectual domestic drama. You can taste the fervour with which this guy wanted Nazgul put in the movie.
He also seemed dissatisfied with the un-operatic nature of the dialogue. One senses an alternate script was written up, and that he asked the actors to deliver the lines of one script with the emotions of the other. What else could account for a moment in Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth's dance, where, upon discussing Mr. Wickham, Darcy suddenly becomes Hannibal Lector to Elizabeth's Clarice? Or Elizabeth's strange, sulking interludes?
Sometimes it seemed more like Wright wanted to direct a series of music videos, as we're given shots of Elizabeth standing on cliffs or trudging through countryside that often seem completely unrelated to the narrative or anything the characters could reasonably want or do.
The only other version of Pride and Prejudice I've seen is the version with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. Which was an infinitely better version, much less concerned with being a Glorious Beauty unto the Eyes of the Adolescent Goddess. They had good actors, good dialogue, and didn't seem to feel much else was really needed.
And what a miserable failure this Matthew Macfadyen guy was as Mr. Darcy. Dull as dirt, and he constantly seemed bewildered by his surroundings. This guy needs to be playing office interns and waiters in dull John Grisham movies.
I almost forgot to mention the time-lapse shot of Elizabeth staring at a painting or something; day turns to night while she stands there, until Mr. Darcy walks in behind her. I half expected him to say, "Oh, Ms. Bennet, you seem to have an awful mess there about your ankles."