***/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B-
starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland
screenplay by Deborah Moggach
directed by Joe Wright
by Walter Chaw There's fat to be trimmed from Joe Wright's noble go at Jane Austen's adapted-to-death Pride and Prejudice, which clocks in at a flabby 127 minutes (yet still seems somehow rushed at its conclusion), but when it works, it does for Austen what Kenneth Branagh's Henry V and Hamlet did for Shakespeare: it makes the trials of these iconic literary figures feel immediate and sensible--and it does so with a screenplay (by Deborah Moggach) that understands what parts of the text are timeless and what parts are not. This isn't to say that this Pride & Prejudice is more post-modern than the source, but that Wright understands where to prompt top-billed Keira Knightley to laugh sardonically and thus crafts an illusion of an interior life for her Elizabeth Bennet beyond the usual impression of adolescent cattiness. Knightley may very well be headed for an Oscar nomination for what has become the chick-Hamlet (Austen being the crucible through which young British actors put themselves in preparation for, I guess, Domino and sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean), but I'm thinking if she gets one, she owes at least half of it to Wright for the amount of time he put into highlighting her script.