Why? That's the question many have asked when they heard that a new version of Jane Austen's classic Pride & Prejudice was being released. Why, when the 1995 A&E/BBC version is considered the gold standard? Why, when Colin Firth simply is Mr. Darcy? In other words, if it ain't broke, why try to fix it?

Keira Knightley, playing Elizabeth Bennet, brings the the right balance of self-assured and anguished to the role

Keira Knightley, playing Elizabeth Bennet, brings the the right balance of self-assured and anguished to the role

Thankfully, director Joe Wright doesn't try to fix anything. Think of it this way: The A&E/BBC version is like a family portrait—a stunningly lit, artistically framed photograph that captures the family so true to life. This new 2005 version is more like an impressionist painting of the family—less detail and depth, but when you look at it from different angles, various shadings and nuance catch your eye. It's the same lovely story, just a different artistic rendering.

Of course, the family in this portrait is the Bennets—endearingly henpecked Mr. (Donald Sutherland) and annoyingly fussy Mrs. (Brenda Blethyn) and their five daughters, whose main hope for any sort of future is to marry well. After all, this is 18th century Britain, the family's experiencing some financial distress, and money and estates are passed through sons. So when one single and rich Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) moves into town, the Bennet house becomes a twittering, giggling mess.

At a local ball soon after his arrival, Bingley spends most of the evening dancing with the eldest Bennet, Jane (Rosamund Pike). She's the prettiest of the sisters by far, and therefore holds the brunt of the burden of marrying well and elevating the family to financial security. Bingley is accompanied by his conniving sister, Caroline (Kelly Reilly), and his long-faced friend Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), who second-oldest daughter Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) overhears ...

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Pride & Prejudice
Our Rating
3½ Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG (for some mild thematic elements)
Genre
Directed By
Joe Wright
Run Time
2 hours 9 minutes
Cast
Keira Knightley, Talulah Riley, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone
Theatre Release
November 23, 2005 by Focus Features
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