Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Though Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice,” may be an easy target for romantic kitsch on some levels due to its longing looks and melting eyes, it is nevertheless a solid adaptation of the Austen novel—one of two showing at the Tropic in honor of Mother’s Day this week.

Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) is the eldest daughter from a family with a domineering Mrs. Bennett (Brenda Blethyn). At a ball, Elizabeth spies the brooding Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen). She doesn’t know what to think regarding the aloof and taciturn man. Suffice it to say Darcy is troubled with a reputation as dark as his greatcoat. The drama involves a family loyalty and a slight involving Darcy’s friend Wickham (Rupert Friend). 

Elizabeth gets word of Darcy’s animosity towards Wickham and is none too happy, wanting to think that Darcy is merely melancholic and complex. 

After a second party, Darcy proposes marriage to Elizabeth, but she refuses, citing his cutting and petty behavior to the good-natured Wickham. Elizabeth is shaken to the core.

Darcy becomes the man you love to hate and then love again in true Austen fashion.

This film boasts strong performances by Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen. Knightly was nominated for an Academy Award. Wondrous cinematography by Roman Osin whose camera is perpetually moving in defiance of period piece conventions.

If you are a lover of Romance and especially handkerchief tossing, “Pride & Prejudice” is a classic of its kind.

Ang Lee delivers a colorful and faithful adaptation of Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility, as rich and as gorgeously executed as an Asian tapestry. It exudes an adept knowledge of color theory. Visually, it is excellently balanced. Narratively, it has more tumbles and twists upon the heart than Casanova with a stomach virus. 

Due to a harsh twist of fate, the Dashwoods have to move from their palatial home to more modest surroundings. Elinor (Emma Thompson) is the head of the family. She is smitten by a soporific man of idle ways Edward (Hugh Grant).

Marianne (Kate Winslet) is a romantic. When she falls and sprains her ankle during inclement weather, she is aided by the Byronic Willoughby (Greg Wise) who carries the exact same volume of Shakespeare’s Sonnets that Marianne herself worships. There is an instantaneous attraction.

Then Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) appears: a man whose heart has been crushed by the sorrow of star-crossed love. He is sensitive and kind but also melancholic. Marianne decides to put her romantic energy toward Willoughby. Willoughby evolves as a womanizer in the way of the worst of any libertine, loving covertly in pursuit of money.

Marianne becomes sick with a pernicious infection. The Dashwood home is in an uproar.

While the film impresses upon one that most every man (sans one) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, duplicitous and full of sideways smiles, the action rolls along with festive humor and looks askance. Emma Thompson is excellent and Kate Winslet delivers a perfect role as a lovestruck heroine with Pre-Raphaelite glamour and wistfulness. The magic, mystery and pain of love exudes from her cinematic pores. 

Like “Pride & Prejudice” this film is full of melodrama, but everything is level and measured. “Pride & Prejudice” had a campish quality with Keira Knightley’s longing looks. But in this film, the torment feels more grounded, given Winslet’s intense glare. And just as in the aforementioned film, one sees pigs and canines buttressing against romantic folly, caprice, pettiness and the pushes and pulls of a capitalist heart. Both “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride & Prejudice” make torturous twins in the ways of the heart with a mother’s spirit steadfast and always at the ready.

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