It’s time for another U-turn. I went to see Pride & Prejudice after all. I hadn’t been to the cinema in ages and my sister and I had to get over our disdain for all the other people there and the ridiculous noises that cinema audiences make these days (chatting, mobile phones, rustling sweets, in an out to the toilet, god almighty, sit and down and be quiet for a few hours).
Anyway, she turned to me as the credits rolled, and said: “We’ve a lot to talk about.” And so we did. We agreed there were pluses and minuses – more minuses.
The overall tone is what I supppose you would call – real. The Bennetts are poorer, the dresses plainer, the girls are played by actresses of the correct ages, they don’t wear make up (well, visibly, Kiera/Lizzy and Jane were done up nicely if discreetly). The balls were done in a much more lively and vibrant manner. So on an intellectual level I could appreciate that that was an interesting and perhaps more correct approach BUT, I don’t know. Were they that poor? Did a pig have to appear in the hallway? The book makes references to gardens, but I only saw farmyards there. It was all a bit agricultural. I observed the new approach but it didn’t impress my heart.
On the characters:
Mrs Bennett: I thought Brenda Blethyn played her very nicely. She presents her as a far more desperate and sympathetic character than usual. That was nice.
Mr Bennett: Well he was just a bit too scraggy. The sister reckoned his (Donald Sutherland) agent must have negotiated he got the last word in the film.
Bingley: They ruined him!! Bingley is charming, but he is not an idiot. They made him out to be a fool.
Jane: Fantastic. In the book she is very beautiful but actually the BBC actress who played her was not that gorgeous. So finally we get a Jane who lives up to the script.
Caroline Bingely. Liked her. She is much a more realistic bitch than Anna Chancellor in BBC BUT Anna was an absolute riot and hammed it up so I am not criticising her.
Mr Collins: He was good. He got a creepiness across that really made Lizzie’s rejection of him convincing.
Charlotte: Excellent actually. Her plainness made her acceptance of Collins very realistic and I loved her “don’t judge me” line.
Lydia: I liked the take because she was clearly so 15 altho’ it made Wickham’s interest in her less believable.
Wickham: Well, he was very good looking which was important but because they gave his and Elizabeth’s relationship hardly any time it made Elizabeth’s grievance on his behalf against Darcy seem less important.
Lady Catherine: Judi Dench. Very good. Now I loved the old cow who played her in the BBC but Dench makes her very formidable and Elizabeth’s standing up to her very brave. But arriving in the middle of the night for the show down was a bit ridiculous.
and so we come to our heroes:
Kiera. She did what I knew she would do. Yes, her eyes are beautiful and alive but I am sorry, what is going on with her jawline? It sticks out at the bottom so it constantly looks like she’s gritting her teeth. And while she did get across that wilfulness of Elizabeth’s, she did the giggling thing. Elizabeth is mature and composed. I know she’s only 20 but she doesn’t make a show of herself. We are proud of Elizabeth. Maybe we’d laugh out of nervousness, but not our Elizabeth. She conducts herself with dignity and we are proud of her. So sorry Kiera. I knew you would fail and you did.
Darcy. Darcy. Darcy.
To be honest, it wasn’t entirely McFayden’s fault. I don’t mind him being less good looking. And I thought he did intense and broody ok. Quite good actually. The director ruined it for him. Like, hello, Proposal scene???? (excuse descent into Friends-speak). She is running around in the rain (why? does she think she looks good wet?)
She takes shelter at some monument and he appears. How? Why is he there? Where are we? Did he beam down? Where’s his horse or carriage? I need logistical back-up for these things.
And the letter. The letter is absolutely crucial. It is the turning point of the plot. And they reduce it to two pages. Pathetic.
Then they add in sentences. In a much freer language and style. “He is bewitched, body and soul”. You are not Heathcliff, for God’s sake. And she says “your hands are cold”. What? Is this Hugh Grant and your woman in 4 Weddings? “Is it still raining?”.
So interesting exercise but result: fail.