I assume that those who happen to drop by this blog and reading this have already been familiar with the novel, having read it as a compulsory reading if sometime during their pre-college or college days they choose literature as the subject, or by the very least, be already familiar to the story, thanks to the hype surrounding Colin Firth’s wet suit or Aishwarya Rai’s song-and-dance numbers in polished English. Whatever your resource is, I can assure you that the version of Pride and Prejudice being examined here does not change anything at all from the core of the story, thus leaving me not having to describe anything that happens between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.
In fact, there’s nothing wrong at all with this exquisite film. At the time of rising trend in turning classical literary works into some self-proclaimed modern re-imagining adaptation, often indicated by changing the setting of time and place (remember the less-than-great “Great Expectations”, anyone?), Joe Wright decides to stick to the truest nature of the book by keeping the background of the story intact. Such a relief indeed to see a period drama with girls wearing corsets hidden under layers of their enchanting dress while parading themselves in majestic castles, and not since Merchant-Ivory team that a director can treat a classic work into something precious and beautiful as this.
The perseverance to keep the spirit of the book thus leads us to witness a fine acting ensemble, led by Keira Knightley in her spitfire performance as rebellious Elizabeth Bennett, an unlikely heroine at the time of women’s reservation. Keira’s determination indeed works like a magnet that captive audience to long more of her presence, and not even a scene where she fails to lit up the screen with her ethereal beauty alongside her bravura acts. In accordance to the film’s release at the end of the year during Oscar campaign season, I strongly believe she can pull off the same effect like what Winona Ryder did on 1994 with her “Little Women”, i.e. to emerge as an underdog, and slowly build the way up to scoring a nod for Best Actress in a film based on a beloved classic novel.
Her other compatriot is the hilarious Brenda Blethyn playing as her mother, a busy-bee woman whose mind is occupied in finding good men for all of her daughters. She might be over-the-top, yet her antics give the film necessary laughter whenever she appears on the screen. Talk about being an effective scene stealer here.
And now comes the part that personally I dislike most: bashing a good film.
So the acting is superb, the screenwriting manages to stay faithful and keep the spirit of the book well, the direction is deft, the score is enticing enough, and what could possibly ruin the whole 135 minute of the film?
Believe it or not, it is the ending.
Here in Singapore, we are very unfortunate to be given with the US version, which contains additional scenes, and I have to warn you that these additional scenes deem unnecessary, and to some extent, these scenes linger on to my mind, way long after I watch this film more than a week ago.
Of course, I respect my readers’ preference not to have any spoilers, yet I do strongly suggest that if you manage to watch the UK version, it is slightly shorter and the scene the director picks to end the film is, indeed, a bang.
Whereas for the US version, what is meant to be sexy on the first place, turns out to become, sadly, an out-of-place laughing stock.
Anyway, I guess this is the first time for me to say:
Leave the theatre before the final scene appears, and you’ve got a beautiful film to treasure.