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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

2005 (Joe Wright) G, 126 minutes

Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Brenda Blethyn

Romance seems so urgent and delightful in Austen because marriage is a business, and her characters cannot help treating it as a pleasure. Pride and Prejudice is the best of her novels because its romance involves two people who were born to be in love, and care not about business, pleasure, or each other. It is frustrating enough when one person refuses to fall in love, but when both refuse, we cannot rest until they kiss.

Knightley's performance is so light and yet fierce that she makes the story almost realistic; this is not a well-mannered "Masterpiece Theatre" but a film where strong-willed young people enter life with their minds at war with their hearts. The movie is more robust than most period romances; it is set earlier than usual, in the late 1700s, a period more down to earth than the early Victorian years. The young ladies don't look quite so much like illustrations for Vanity Fair, and there is mud around their hems when they come back from a walk. It is a time of rural realities: When Mrs. Bennet sends a daughter to visit Netherfield Park, the country residence of Mr. Bingley, she sends her on horseback, knowing it will rain, and she will have to spend the night. 

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times