Pride & Prejudice ★★★★½

about half way through this austen adaptation, elizabeth and darcy meet under these huge roman columns, amidst the pouring rain, with the verdant rolling english countryside surrounding them, when darcy utterly blindsides elizabeth by - of all things - proposing! then they proceed to argue vociferously. elizabeth informs him that he's basically the last man on earth she would ever want to marry. and yet, before darcy storms off, they share such an erotically charged moment that it puts many an overt filmic display of lust to shame.

see, that's the thing about austen. she wrote about propriety, decorum, rules, and manners, but underneath it all she was also concerned about romance, love, and individual desire.

this film captures the very spirited torment of her most well-loved novel: the push and pull between augustan prudence and romantic desire.

aesthetically, joe wright's constantly moving camera - almost always swirling, tracking, or panning, much like keira knightley's peripatetic performance - mirrors the tug of war, the battle of wills, the struggle for love of both elizabeth and darcy. later, the lusty rococo decor of pemberly begins to reveal to elizabeth that there is more to darcy than she had originally thought; while she explores her passions in books, dance, and the outdoors, his are made manifest in music, murals and marble. they are obviously there though: he is not a cold man, as we too are beginning to learn.

the camera finally holds steady as darcy, wearing his great coat down to his ankles, treks across the misty morning landscape, in glowing golden sunlight, ultimately to find elizabeth and whole-heartedly declare: "you have bewitched me body and soul, and i love... i love... i love you".

and so, my dear viewers, romance wins in the end: elizabeth and darcy marry, and joe wright gets jane austen right. how lucky for us.

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