There are many women who do not like this adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, but I love it. The main reason that I love it is because of Matthew MacFadyen’s interpretation of Mr. Darcy. I loved watching him transform from a stiff, prideful and conceited fellow to a man who learns the joy of what love can bring. Mr. Darcy’s love for Elizabeth Bennett melts away his prideful exterior. Matthew McFadyen interprets the change very clearly in this adaptation. Mr. Darcy is almost like a love sick school boy when he realizes that he cannot stop thinking about Elizabeth. In the 1995 version Mr Darcy’s transformation is done in a more subtle way.
Keira Knightly portrays Elizabeth Bennett. Keira’s interpretation of the heroine is not my favorite. It was not a bad performance, I just did not care for this version of Elizabeth. The way Keira portrayed Lizzy seems more suited for one of Catherine Cookson’s melodramas. There was just something missing in Elizabeth in this version, and I found her to be too much of a tomboy. Elizabeth Bennett is outspoken, but never rude.
Keira was also outfitted in very drab looking clothing which did not fit the character at all. The Bennett’s were not wealthy, but neither were they destitute. Their home certainly was nothing like Netherfield but it was still a house on a greater scale than the norm. It was more like a smaller mansion, and they did employ a cook.
Matthew MacFadyen’s facial expressions are simply priceless. I think that this aspect of his performance is not identical to the Mr Darcy of Jane Austen’s book but I appreciate it very much in this version of the movie. In the book I think that Mr Darcy is less expressive.
As much as Mr. Darcy tries to deny or hide it, Elizabeth has touched his heart. His look of deep wanting is apparent.
The first proposal scene takes place at the Temple of Apollo in Stourhead Garden in England. It is also the part of this movie that I really appreciate Matthew MacFadyen’s performance.
The first proposal scene alone makes this movie worth watching to me. Mr. Darcy finally throws away the last thread of pride and family ranking to reveal and express his love for Elizabeth. It is heart wrenching to watch Mr. Darcy pour his heart out, and then watch Elizabeth stomp on it. Granted the wording of his proposal leaves much to be desired, but for Mr. Darcy, professing love was huge. Besides, look at that love tortured face.
Mr. Darcy personally delivers a letter to Elizabeth explaining the truth about his relationship with Mr. Wickham.
Elizabeth secretly witnesses Mr. Darcy expressing love and tenderness to his sister, and she is amazed at this side of him.
Donald Sutherland plays Elizabeth Bennett’s father, and it is not his best role. It seemed to me as if he was cast because of his name and then he was allowed to be as low-key as he pleased in the role. I have seen much better work come out of Mr. Sutherland.
Brenda Blethyn is hysterical Mrs. Bennett. She brings the right balance of humor and chatter to the character. I really enjoyed her version of Mrs. Bennett.
The second proposal scene was lovely, although it did happen in a way that would be highly unlikely for the time period. I realized after watching this version that it takes place in a later time period than the book, but I still feel that Elizabeth would not go walking outside in the early morning hours in just her nightgown. Mr. Darcy would never compromise Elizabeth by being with her half-dressed outside either. This was totally out of character for both but it was still a beautiful second proposal and expression of love.
This movie is not the perfect version of Pride & Prejudice, but I still enjoyed it very much for what the director intended it to be in his eyes. I have seen worse versions, such as the 1940 production starring Laurence Olivier. I am usually a purist when it comes to making books into movies, but sometimes I don’t mind a little change.