Pride & Prejudice ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly explain why I love this movie so much.

Perhaps it is Keira Knightley’s masterful portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, a personal hero of mine. I’ve never wanted to be a fictional character so much in my life. Her Elizabeth is whip-smart and sharp and she knows it, a dimension that is often absent from renditions of this character. It is this arrogance disguised as self-awareness that makes her conflict with Mr. Darcy all the more interesting to watch and makes her arc all the more satisfying.

Perhaps it is the music of the film, one of my favorite scores of all time. Comprised of mostly piano and string variations on two or three key melodies, it brings an airiness to the film while somehow simultaneously grounding it in the period.

Perhaps it is the story. There is a reason this is Austen’s most famous work. Pride and Prejudice encapsulates so much: from family to sisterhood to classism to love. It may be classified as romantic film, but it truly is more than that. It’s a commentary on Regency England’s social structure, a characterization of the conflict between heart and head, an analysis on human nature.

Or perhaps it is the pure beauty of it. It’s not often thought of as the most gorgeous film, but I can never watch it without commenting on its beauty. It’s just so damn beautiful.

I could honestly dissect this movie scene by scene, but there are two that really make this film what it is for me.

1. Rain Confession scene. As someone who read the book first, I originally thought I’d prefer the 1995 BBC miniseries for its faithfulness to the actual novel. However, this scene continues to floor me every time I watch it. Knightley and McFayden do some of their best work here, delivering the dialogue at breakneck speed while maintaining high emotional intensity. The editing is tight, whipping between close ups of each character, and there is no music—just torrential downpour and thunder. The air is utterly crackling with tension and chemistry, and there is a moment right before Darcy leaves that is so emotionally charged I can barely breathe while watching it. I read somewhere that during a screen test, there was so much sexual tension that the two actors actually did kiss. Enough said.

2. End Declaration scene. The theme swells as the sun rises and Elizabeth watches Darcy makes his way to her across a misty field. Darcy is unguarded as we’ve ever seen him, shadows of the morning cast on him. They converse, the sun rising behind them, lighting up the sky. Darcy whispers, stutters out his words, and Lizzie inhales and moves closer to him, stepping, quite literally, into the light. The music slows, softens, as she takes his hand and presses her lips to it. Then the music dips and they press their foreheads together, and in a miraculous burst of light, the sunshine flits between their profiles, creating one of the most beautiful shots I’ve ever seen on film. God bless Joe Wright and Roman Osin.

Honorable Mentions: Lizzie and Darcy’s first dance scene (the music during this part...I'm out), Lizzie visiting Pemberley (COLOR SCHEME!!! PRODUCTION DESIGN!!! CINEMATOGRAPHY!!!)

There is just so much natural symmetry and light and love in this film, it makes my heart burst. It is gorgeously directed, acted, and filmed. The script does the novel justice while keeping it moving at a good pace. I just love it so much, I don’t even know how to explain why anymore. GOD.

Now, the only thing that would make it better is if Matthew McFayden had a Colin Firth-esque lake scene in the second act. Just saying.

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