I’m pretty certain a select group of individuals will think what I’m about to say is sacrilegious. I think that the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly, Donald Sutherland, and Matthew Macfadyen is the best version of this Jane Austen classic made to date. Sorry – sorry! I know the die hard A&E fans loved Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, but I’m going to stick with what I said. The main reason I love the 2005 Pride and Prejudice is pretty simple... better acting! Especially in the way Elizabeth Bennet and the mother are played.
Keira Knightly plays Miss Elizabeth Bennet to a tee. You could not ask for a better actress in this part. Opposed to Ehle who was over the top and rude, Knightly stayed just shy of too much is too much. Knightly plays Elizabeth with sass, a sprinkling of saucy wit, humor, intelligence, and grace. Her remarks are sharp and cutting without getting annoying (think Ehle as nails on a chalkboard grating). Whereas Knightly plays Elizabeth as able to fun herself and others, Ehle played Elizabeth haughty, arrogant, and more than a touch above her company. It is my opinion that Knightly played Elizabeth without overdoing it.
I choose Matthew Macfadyen as the better Mr. Darcy simply on the fact that I love how he says his lines, the emotion in his face, and that he’s my kind of drop dead gorgeous. Firth is quite handsome and plays his part well but saddled with Ehle, it’s no wonder he thought so ill of her at first! Who can withstand the deep-rooted passion that he carries through his tone and posture? I know I can’t! Yowza! You'll have to tell me who you think is the better Mr. Darcy and why! Let's start a list going for pros and cons. I'll even help by giving Colin Firth the pro of the wet white shirt... Grin.
I also find I just enjoy the cast of side characters better in the 2005 version. The mother is by far the best played and I have seen them all – including the Laurence Olivier aka 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice. I can stand Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet even as I hate her (the mother) if that makes sense. Lydia and Kitty and Mary are perfectly well suited. Some will say Mary is too pretty in this version, but I like what the director said about her part. Check out the commentary on this film – I loved it and learned much trivia for future Trivial Pursuit matches.
Mr. Binghley is a delightful boob in this film. He’s so adorable how he stumbles all over himself around Jane Bennet. You’ll love him on sight! He’s eager and open and amiable in all the right ways. He’s just what a young man ought to be! Grin. His sister is perfectly wonderful for her role, again an actress who can play her part without going so far as to gross you out in it.
The scenery alone is enough reason to buy this movie, but think of the many rainy days and cups of tea you will enjoy while falling head over heals in love again and again. What's your favorite version?