Like Douglas McGrath's version of Emma, Joe Wright's 2006 adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice works beautifully because it throws off the weight of the novel's immense popularity in order to focus on the human story at the heart of the tale. Instead of staying scrupulously faithful to the source material -- and really, what would be the point of even attempting such a thing after the definitive BBC version starring Colin Firth -- Wright streamlines the story without sacrificing much of the color. His observant, roving camera flows from person to person throughout the film's many party scenes, providing important glimpses into the action going on in the background while the main story marches forward. These sequences are technically superb, and contextually modest as they never stray from the narrative. Wright's choice for Elizabeth Bennet, the strong-willed daughter, could not have been more apt considering his approach to the material. Keira Knightley does an impressive job of bringing the beloved heroine to life, carrying herself with confidence as well as a playful twinkle in her eye so as to always seem modern for Ms. Bennet's time, rather than her own. The film includes solid work from Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench, Jena Malone, and especially Matthew MacFadyen as the prickly but loyal Darcy. These actors conspire with Wright to provide Knightley the kind of support that allows her to shine at the center of this charming, well-made entertainment.
by Perry Seibert review