A story of love and life among the landed English gentry during the Georgian era. Mr. Bennet is a gentleman living in Hertfordshire with his overbearing wife and five daughters, but if he dies their house will be inherited by a distant cousin whom they have never met, so the family's future happiness and security is dependent on the daughters making good marriages.
Good adaptation and performances from Knightley and MacFayden.
When I watched this version of the Austen classic prior to packing the DVD away for a move, I assumed ahead of time it would stay nestled behind the Colin Firth version as my second favorite adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Now, however, pending my watching the other version again, this might indeed be my new favorite. Not due to any major differences in acting ability or in the writing, but rather for the way it nails down the little things, the stuff I may not have noticed the first time or two I watched it. One simple example is of the portrayal of Mary, one of the servants in the Bennet household. She says hardly anything during the course of the movie, but a couple of times we follow her while she is singing as she works, and I found it utterly charming. And I think it illustrates, whether or not it was intended, that this is a pleasant house that servants did not dread to start their work days in. There is also at one of the balls a long scene of dancing that shows several of the characters who are involved in subplots going on, all within this continuous shot. It is clever, and on one website it is said the camera was left running by accident; a happy accident if you ask me. Also, a few of the scenic moments, such as one time when Elizabeth merely stares lost in thought in the middle of great beauty, are amiable natural breaks in the action. The acting is very good, of course, with this cast, but also their attitude is perfect. Brenda Blethyn excels in the thankless role of the silly mother, managing not to cross the line into looking outright ridiculous. Sutherland is — well, I will give any movie a try with him in it. Keira Knightly is, for me, astonishingly good. If you had described to me before I watched it the way, when she or her family is insulted, she looks jolted for a moment, but then with a short laugh or smile shakes it off, I would have said “Nope, that won’t work.” But it works. Her wit is sensational. I write fiction myself and always try to to feature witty female characters, and Elizabeth would fit right into my modern novels. Dame Penelope Wilton is excellent as always, and Claudia Blakey shone as Charlotte. If pressed to find at least one small fault, I could only say that I think the writers and director (and possibly Jane Austen herself) may have underestimated Mary Bennet as a character. I have always thought that more could be done with her, in every version. I am only sorry now I have to pack the DVD away for the movie, even if only for a few weeks.