I swore to myself that I wouldn’t do it, that I would resist, that to give in and look at the trailer for the latest version of Pride and Prejudice would just make me ropeable at worst, sad at best. Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett? Ack! Yeah, I know there are worse actors out there, who’d be even more ludicrously miscast, but it doesn’t make her any less of a crap choice.
I’m not a Knightley fan. I know it’s not her fault, but I’ve never forgiven her for becoming the famous one after Bend it Like Beckham, when it was the luminous Parminder Nagra who stole that movie, not Knightley. Now Nagra’s on ER and Knightley’s everywhere. Where’s the justice?
And let’s just say I didn’t have high hopes that the folks what made Love, Actually were going to do right by Miss Austen. But watch the trailer I did, only to discover that it’s more shockingly awful than the one for the 1940 Greer Garson Pride and Prejudice. At least that one (and the film) can be excused because of its camp value. This one, well. Is the film a satire of bad historical adaptations? I really hope so. Throughout Darcy looks incapable of keeping his shirt on, Elizabeth Bennett is shrill, and in two of the scenes it looks like the two are about to go the tongue! Bloody hell! Did the film makers even read the book?
And you know what? Elizabeth Bennett was not a woman ahead of her time. She was very much of it, shocked by sex before marriage, with no ambitions for herself other than becoming the wife of a good man. I could go on but it’s been said much better here.
Still, seeing the trailer was a very good thing—my loins are now well girded against seeing the actual movie. The thought of it goes well beyond shudder territory.
Update: Just to make it clear—I am no Jane Austen purist. My favourite adaptions of her work are Amy Hackerling’s Clueless (1995), Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park (1999), and Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice (2004). Hah, all directed by women. I never noticed that before.