Saturday, February 25, 2006

Of elegant females and pigs in the house

Having finally watched the movie version of Pride and Prejudice, I have come to the conclusion that Austen is impossible to ruin. That said, the movie was strangely...wrong.
Matthew McFayden's an attractive man, but to ask any actor to step into the role that Colin Firth played in the BBC adaptation is just cruel. Not because Firth was brilliant (though he was very good), but because he defined the role for so many people. I've never met any straight woman who wasn't at least partially in love with him at that point. McFayden has a lovely deep voice that somehow doesn't sound like it belongs to him. He also has a habit of gawking when Elizabeth is being particularly charming. This makes him look a little like an English football player. (Yes, I adore English football players but they're not exactly known for their aristocratic demeanour, are they?)
Keira's a very pretty girl and a decent actress, but she doesn't work as Lizzie for me. The face perhaps, but the skinniness and the wild hair are just not what I'd imagined. Ah well. She plays her part reasonably well, which is all one could really expect of her.
Rosamund Pike doesn't have that big of a role, but she suits it well.
The guy who played Bingley...good grief, what were they thinking? 5,000 a year and the man can't afford a comb? He looks like the simpering assistant of a mad scientist.
Wickham was better...though he had the kind of weakness about his face that Orlando Bloom has. Not my type.

The scenery is lovely - though a lot of the Derbyshire shots reminded me more of Bronte than Austen.

Some things seemed terribly inaccurate to me. Surely Bingley wouldn't just barge into Jane's bedroom when the'd just met? Surely the Bennets weren't so poor as to have a pig in the household? Etc.

I think the only real problem I have with the movie is its seeming inability to trust Austen. Charlotte's marriage to Mr. Collins and its various pros and cons are brought out in the book without the need for a melodramatic scene in which she cries about how scared she is and how she hates being a burden on her parents. Mr Collins' proposal to Elizabeth is one of the most sublimely funny scenes in all of literature, but what the movie gives us is Elizabeth running away chased by a flock of geese and her mother. The subsequent scenes by the lake ("I won't marry him! You can't make me!") made my friend clutch my arm and whisper "ohmygod. It's a Bengali soap opera!". I am yet to see a Bengali soap opera so am unable to comment on the truth of this statement.

I love how the scenes the audience laughed most at were the ones that use the original dialogue. I realise there are people in the world who don't really like Austen (cretins, the lot of them!) but whether you throw Keira Knightley or Aishwarya Rai into the picture, whereever her dialogue is featured the sheer brilliance of her shines through.


roswitha said...

I'm not reading your review because I don't want to spoilerify, but I am straight and have never, at any point in time, been in love with Colin Firth, except in a 'oh-look-a-sexy-accent!' way, and I thought you should know that.

kavi said...

Finally!!!...I m not the only one who finds British accent sexiest in the world!

Sowmya said...

I completely agree with your views about the movie!! Pride and Prejudice has been one of my favorite books of all-time, and I didn't think the movie did it full justice. However, I did love the scene where Mr.Darcy proposes to Elizabeth- one could see real chemistry on-screen and I was forced to replay the scene repeatedly in my head when I left the theatre :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, you like Jane Austin, that dowdy gossipmonger masquerading as a writer of fiction that (supposedly) displays sparkling wit and brilliant social commentary (I am gagging even as I type this down here.)

You must get a life. ASAP.