I’ve had Joe Wright’s 2005 debut Pride & Prejudice on my mind a whole lot recently; although – truth be told – I’ve been thinking less of the actual film and more of the lovely lady it centres on, the lovely Keira Knightley. I remember when during the awards season in 2006, before I saw the film, I was a bit confused at the choice of clip that a number of shows played for Keira, but it wasn’t until seeing the film in its entirety I was able to place the deserved value on it. This is not a BBC version of Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen’s very cadence is condensed into a perfectly little two hour piece and Wright’s choice in shooting Mr. Darcy’s first proposal is fresh and original. I like, for example, how he chooses to have it done immediately after Elizabeth learns of his role is thwarting her sister’s chance at marriage. She runs off for some solace, in the rain no less. The shot below is so picturesque.
Keira is such a perfect fit for Elizabeth, it's almost ridiculous. She handles this scene so well, even before it actually begins, as she leans against the pillars she's so naturally upet, and yet never exagerrated.
And then of course Mr. Darcy comes to interrupt her thinking -
I said before that McFayden doesn't completely thrill me in the role, but his signs of discomfort work so well here, perhaps it's the rain...
Miss Elizabeth, I have struggled in vain and can bear it no longer...
Certainly, Darcy's first proposal is nowhere near is horrific as Mr. Collins', but I really must comment McFayden for selling some of the weirdest lines and still managing to make it sound (somewhat) romantic. I like how Keira responds with a look somewhere between aghast and confused.
Regardless of the overlying theme in her books, it's nice how Jane Austen always clings to filial love among her heroines and Keira portrays this excellently. Younger than her sister Jane, she is, but the penchant for shielding is handled so well as she rips into Darcy.
Of course Matthew is wise enough to realise that as bewitched as Darcy is by Elizabeth he's unwilling to lose an argument. As wrong as she is at the moment, it's nice to see Elizabeth growing...there's almost a hesitancy as if she's not too keen to denounce this man - even as she's certain that he's the cause for her sister's misfortune.
Of course, as we shall come to see, she's completely off in defending her beloved Mr. Wickham. Notice, too, how the mention of his name produces one of the rare moments of heightened life from McFayden's very dour Darcy.
I am to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?
As misguided a line as it is, I can't help but cheer on the line and its excelllent delivery. All leading up to Keira's own notable rant...
Your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdian for the feelings of others made me realise you were the last man in the world I would ever marry.
It's an excellent delivery of a passionate line, but am I alone in thinking that this would have led into a kiss, talk about sexual tension, eh?
And then of course he stalks off, and she's left there confused (and unkissed).
And damn, isn't she beautiful?
What is it about the rain...? And all that silent emoting? Why exactly is she considered to be a poor actress?
And then the scene closes with these lovely shots...