Now this is a pretty famous movie. At the very least you will have heard of the book at least at some point in your life. These old school romance titles certainly took the world by storm but I haven’t had the best experiences with these in the past. Would this film be any different? Fortunately I would say yes. While it still does have some issues, there are enough strengths where I would call this a good film. It’s fairly long but does have at least some replay value thanks to the strong dialogue. That’s absolutely the film’s biggest strength.
The film follows Mrs. Bennet and her various kids. She has a bunch of kids that’s for sure and they’ve all grown up into young ladies. The main issue is that none of them have found a husband yet. Bennet is convinced that they need to marry fast before they get older. She also wants them to marry someone who is fairly wealthy since they need some cash and quick. Part of the incentive is also the status boost. Bennet is always gossiping with the other ladies and this would help her out quite a bit.
The situation grows brighter as two rich men move into town. One of them is a man named Wickham (Gee…think this guy might be a villain??) and then you have Darcy. Both of them are immediately rushed by all of the women in town. This town has quite a lot of ladies who want to secure a bachelor. While Wickham loves the attention, Darcy isn’t too interested. He doesn’t want to marry a commoner and believes that only rich people are interesting. He likes talking smack about the other characters behind their back and just seems like a rather unlikable guy.
Darcy does try to keep the pretense up but Elizabeth heard his words. Now whenever he tries to make a move on her, she insults him and declines. This quickly turns into the main plot of the film as it’s a cat and mouse game between the two of them. The more she insults him, the more Darcy grows interested in her. She wants nothing to do with him…but this is a romance movie so we’ll see if she can stick the landing.
This was the strongest part of the film though because as I mentioned, the dialogue is quite good. Elizabeth gets a great amount of insults directed at him and they are cleverly worded. She always says things that could technically be seen as polite and nice if read on paper, but the lines are spoken with a rather obvious inflection. She wants him to know that he’s being insulted and he gets the message loud and clear. Darcy doesn’t realize that Elizabeth overheard him either so he’s puzzled at why she is so rude to him.
I’m glad that Elizabeth didn’t spill the beans on this since it would have made things too easy. It’s not like there are any misunderstandings like in a modern rom-com either. Darcy really doesn’t like poor people and that’s a pretty legitimate reason for Elizabeth not to want to be with him. Of course she doesn’t need a reason to reject him but it works well. So I’ve spent a lot of time talking about this main romance but that is the core of the film. My only issue is with how the plot resolves. You probably know how it will end 5 minutes into their dynamic and I suppose the odds of the guess being wrong was pretty slim.
Meanwhile Lydia looks pretty bad. Unfortunately she does not have Elizabeth’s cunning nature, nor her skills at keeping the guys in line. Lydia is purely in it for the money and as such is completely oblivious to everything that is happening around her. It’s pretty tragic because things could have really gone south if not for several characters intervening. I wish someone would have told her what a situation she was in. The reason for not doing so is likely that it’s already late now and telling her would only add to potential troubles. She probably still should have been informed though.
Then you have Mr. Collins who exists to worship the rich Lady Catherine. The guy really seems to have no self respect and doesn’t mind groveling the entire time. It’s definitely not a good look for him and you’ll be shaking your head the whole time. Does he really realize what he is doing? The sad answer is yes. He is also not a very loyal fellow I would expect with how he moves on from love to love with ease. When he ends up selecting one of the ladies in town you just have to shake your head because it doesn’t seem like it’ll be a very happy marriage.
Lady Catherine was good though. She is a very extreme character to be sure as she is ultra rich and also has complete disdain for people without money. She has taught Darcy all that he knows after all. Still, she gets a lot of solid lines as well and makes for a good antagonist. Her role is memorable that’s for sure.
In a big way that’s also what helps this film out a lot. The characters are actually pretty memorable and get enhanced by the script. While a lot of other old romance films like this had forgettable characters, you will at least remember Catherine, Elizabeth, and even the more unlikable characters like Darcy and Collins. On the whole the cast isn’t likable but I doubt the film was even trying to get you to sympathize with them.
Effectively it’s like the world of Black Clover where the nobles are extremely arrogant and don’t like the commoners at all. It’s part of why the romance doesn’t work here though as it’s still hard to see Elizabeth falling for Darcy. He was helpful in the end for sure but that means he should get a thank you, not the full marriage. I think if you take out some of the romance or at least change the ending then the film would be an even stronger appearance. It would fully stick the landing which is important.
Overall, Pride and Prejudice beats out most of its rivals from the era. It’s an old school romance film that has better writing than I expected. Outside of Elizabeth most of the characters may not have been all that likable but they had a lot of good lines. Some of the humor may not have aged as well like the talk of drowning the main characters but you also have a lot of lines that do live up to the day like basically any insult Elizabeth gives to Darcy. If you’re looking for an old school romance film and don’t mind it being super long, then this is a good one to check out.