“Pride & Prejudice,” directed by Joe Wright, is based on the well-known book of the same name written by Jane Austen. The film, released in the United States on Nov. 11, 2005, focuses on the ambitions of a not-so-average English family and follows their daily lifestyle.
First off, the film begins with heavy dialogue, lasting throughout the entirety of the film. The work of communication paired with the beautiful scenery filmed in Derbyshire, United Kingdom, among other locations, gives the film a perfect 19th century aesthetic that draws attention instantly. The constant, complex dialogue throughout the film is key to the creation of the plot and carries the story from beginning to end. The scenes that specifically include nature and the different interior designs, all accompanied by classy and elegant music throughout the film, expand on the perspective of the 19th century setting.
The film is paced well for the entire two hours and fifteen minutes. The character development and the attention given to each of the characters, even the supporting roles, isn’t restricted by the long runtime. The focus is not entirely on the main protagonists because each of the supporting characters brings something to the table that highlights important aspects of the overall story. Rosamund Pike’s character, Jane Bennet, follows a storyline of her own like many other characters. Pike’s brilliant acting performance joined with Jane’s personality throughout the film anchors the theme of innocence.
“Pride & Prejudice” captures societal expectations during the early 19th century and the overbearing pressure of the family’s immersion in the social etiquette of trying to find each daughter's husband. The film presents women’s intentions during this time period and highlights the wide assumption that all women need a husband or that getting a partner is their life’s ambition. Throughout the film, mother Mrs. Bennet, played by Brenda Blethyn, shows her affections for her daughters by expressing their need to marry.
Blethyn’s character is contradicted by Keira Knightley’s character and the central protagonist, Elizabeth Bennet, by her independent strength and constant rejection of society. “Pride & Prejudice” is a love story, but Knightley’s character falls in love on her own terms. Knightley gave a phenomenal acting performance and showed her expertise consistently throughout the film.
Mr. Darcy, played by Matthew Macfadyen, is extremely arrogant but when it comes to his love for other characters, he sets aside his pride and introduces an enormous amount of vulnerability, which allows the plot to take a variety of attention-grabbing turns. Macfadyen’s character smooths the love story from a cliche romance to a complex understanding of love.
The relationship dynamics between the different characters add an interesting banter in dialogue. Mrs. Bennet’s interactions with her daughters creates their complex dynamic of gossiping friends rather than mother and daughters. This mother-daughter relationship makes for an interesting spin on the predictable and reserved matriarchal characters seen in other movies.
Although “Pride & Prejudice” introduces a complex narrative of the 19th century, one specific scene was a complete let down. The entire film builds up to a specific moment in the sunlight, and Wright chooses to neglect the sexual tension and misses a great opportunity to take the film over the top. Later on, after the initial release of the film in 2005, an extended version of the film was released that redeemed the failure made in the original version.
“Pride & Prejudice” is an interesting watch, but is mostly worth it because of the complex dialogue that accompanies the romantic situations. A genuine love story enhanced by the uniqueness of conversation, this film still shines. After 15 years, “Pride & Prejudice” remains an iconic and complex romance movie that still manages to make hearts skip a beat.