Oct. 3rd, 2005

Went off to see P&P yesterday afternoon. The last time I was that outnumbered by females was at an HR meeting... They probably don't make them anymore, but I swear that the smell of Pan Drops in the cinema almost choked me. Still, at least it was a better behaved audience than at the Fantastic 4 - only one person in the audience said "Phwoar!" when Keira makes her first appearance, and Susan kicked me so I didn't do it again.

The opening is fairly muddy, and I had high hopes of a down and dirty, realistic rural England being shown, instead of something out of Constable. Unfortunately, with the exception of the odd pig ambling through the hallway, this was more chocolate box than social realism.

Not that I minded - the action (and I use the world advisedly) skipped along merrily enough. Donald Sutherland makes the best of one of Austin's best male roles as Mr Bennett (he doesn't have to say much, doesn't dance, and never dashes his brow in manly torment, Mathew Macfadyen as Darcey is more wooden than Keanu, but when it comes to beeteling a brow he's in a class only the Hulk can touch. Simon Woods as Mr Bingley has a sort of Golden Labrador puppy quality that makes you want to reach out and shake him warmly by the throat, but let's face it, no one has come to see the men.

This is an ensemble piece for women with the assorted (barely)mobile male prop, and as such was wonderfully successful. The sisters range from Stupid and Good (Jane) to Stupid and Annoying (any of the others, except Lizzie).

Judi Dench and Kelly Reilly (as Lady Catherine de Bourg and Caroline Bingley) might as well hold up placards saying "Boo! Hiss!" when they walk on, since they are Clever but Bad.

Jane alone is Clever and Good, and Keira Knightley's perfomance was a huge surprise to me - she was the best thing in this by miles (and some of the other performances are very good indeed, pace my bitchiness above). Roman Osin's camerawork occasionally annoyed me (graininess and multi-focus just seemed to distract from the staging) but either he brings something out from the lass I hadn't seen before or she really is the next Vivien Leigh. Startling stuff.

In summary, go and see it. Not as rich as the six hour BBC adaptation, but a great and silly way of spending two hours, and a film which doesn't insult our intelligences, or if it does, at least manages to do it without blowing anything up.

Oh, and bring your own pan-drops.

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