Friday, 16 June 2017
Pride and Prejudice (2003)
The most iconic screen version of Jane Austen's novel is probably the excellent 1995 mini-series, though my personal favourite remains 2012's Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Which you can watch here. Seriously, it's almost certainly a better use of your time than anything else you have planned.
Made roughly at the midpoint between those two adaptations is this third version of the tale: a low budget independent production. Here, Elizabeth Bennet is a college student and aspiring novelist, studying at an unnamed campus in Utah in the modern day, while her sisters are re-cast as her friends and roommates. Her three potential suitors - the charming but feckless Wickham, overbearing and pompous Collins, and socially awkward Darcy - then revolve in and out of her life in more or less the patterns you might expect, if you're familiar with the basic structure of the novel, though as with any adaptation that changes its setting, some changes from the original are inevitable.
The changes made in this version are a mixed bag. On the plus side, I think they've done quite a good job with the central Elizabeth/Darcy storyline: there's a nicely realised moment where you can see Darcy reassess Elizabeth after his unfavourable first opinion, for instance. On the negative side ... first of all, the film tends heavily toward farce-based humour and it's fairly hit and miss in how well it comes off. Secondly, some of the other character beats misfire. The Wickham/Elizabeth flirtation never seems to be something she's all that interested in, for instance, and Charlotte Lucas's role is reduced to a single two minute scene that doesn't lead into anything or pay off on anything from before. Frankly, she could - and probably should - have been completely excised.
At the end of the day, this is a harmless enough hour and a half, but there are some really great screen adaptations of this book, so why would you spend time with an inferior alternative?