Keep us from being together

Film Every now and then a costume drama is released which is supposed to re-invent the genre. That was the buzz which followed Patricia Rozema's excellent version of Mansfield Park in 1999 and here we are again, six years later with Joe Wright's new Pride and Prejudice. Other than being Jane Austin adaptations, something both of these films have in common is actually how they don't re-invent anything; all they're doing is bring contemporary storytelling techniques to the literary adaptation, which is something which has realistically been happening for years.

It's a startling film actually, with a restless camera burrowing in and out of crowd scenes gathering dialogue, action and plot points in its wake. Time and again there are moments when it becomes clear that conversations are occuring in real time, either when the characters are dancing or at rest, giving the actors room to really develop their performances. It's an entirely Altmanesque technique, the ball sequences in particular resembling Nashville and unsurprisingly Gosford Park, with familiar dialogue given just enough time to breath but information offered visually.

This is the first Kiera Knightly performance I've enjoyed outside her totally nuts appearance as that college princess in The Hole. Giving that major scenes have become little more than a synopsis in the edit, in Lizzy Bennet she's carrying an awful lot of the emotional core of the story and if the film succeeds its because of her. But really it's an excellent ensemble with not a duff performance, even in the parts which have become seriously curtailed. If Matthew MacFadyen's Darcy looks slightly uncomfortable I would imagine it's part of his performance and not as some reviewers have suggested because he's trying not to be some other actor.

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