Disclosure: I think Keira Knightley is a pointy-toothed, flat-chested, scary-necked, slump-shouldered, stick-skinny, personality-free talentless annoyance, which would be just fine if she chose roles that required her to wear trousers, yell a lot, mangle her irritating English accent, and scare a generation of virgin boys into heterosexuality, as she did in Bend it like Beckham, but instead her publicity agent has steered her into her gazillionth role wherein she's generally irresistible; and here, she is playing the spunky heroine in love with whom we are supposed to fall. Well, if you've read this far without scrolling down to the bottom to leave an angry comment, then you'll get through the recap. I don't think my preconceptions about the actors make me unobjective about their performances. I loved Matthew Macfadyen before I saw this movie, yet that didn't stop me from noting that he dialed down his usual low energy approach to acting until he hit "comatose." However, my observations are colored by the fact that I'd love Keira Knightley to disappear, and that needs to be said.
"You mistake me, my dear," Donald Sutherland replies. "I have the highest respect for your nerves. They've been my constant companions these twenty years." You know what gets on my nerves? Rewriting Austen.
Birds chirp and the sun peaks over the trees. Soon the twinkly piano kicks in, twinkling on my last nerve. Keira Knightley is out walking and reading a book, finishing the last page before shutting it and stroking the leather cover. I wish they wouldn't put stuff like that in movies. Reading outside looks impressive, but it's far from fun. I know from trying it. Between the too-bright sunlight, the dirt, the bugs, the leaves, the heat, the wind, and the bird poop, it's much better indoors. But if there's anything this movie is about, it's things that look cooler than they are to experience. Keira, who is wearing a brown frock that really emphasizes her lack of breasts, crosses a little pond, weaves her way through a line of laundry, and then walks through a time portal, because before the house was lit with early morning light, and now it's lit by late afternoon light. It's magic!
The camera's doing one of those long, tricky tracking shots that are also kind of showing off, and everyone knows it. The camera pushes inside the house, catching the lovely Rosemund Pike as Jane, who pauses to yell at Kitty and Lydia, and then we move on to Mary playing the piano. Lest you think Mary has been providing the twinkling, Mary's scales fade in for a moment, then fade out. Um, the hell? Why can't we hear the piano all the time? I'd prefer accuracy over aural perfection, but it's obvious the director doesn't. In, like, everything. Keira walks up the front steps - she walked around the house, instead of going in the back door. Whatever! It's two minutes in, people! She pauses to watch her parents talking through the window; Mrs. Bennet is doing the "Netherfield Park is let at last!" bit from the opening of the novel. Keira laughs fondly at the sight of her distressed mother and detached, snarky father arguing. Okay. She likes domestic disputes. Got it. Now can Keira stop slouching?
Her neck tendons going crazy, Keira runs up to her two youngest sisters and tells them to stop listening at the door. Lydia shushes her and reports what she's overheard, that "a Mr. Bingley" is moving into the neighborhood. Kitty looks excited enough to cry. "Really?" says Keira, abandoning her high horse to crane her neck over her sisters. "He's single!" Kitty and Lydia squeal. "Who's single?" Jane says, swooping in like a hawk. These girls are predatory, though Keira pretends to be above it. Mrs. Bennet catches a glimpse of her daughters at the door, and sighs a little. The girls are at it again. Donald Sutherland, a plotted plant in tow, opens the door, and mildly remarks, "Good heavens, people!" He does get a curtsy out of a couple of his daughters. I suppose that counts for politeness. Donald Sutherland takes his plotted plant to his office, as his wife and daughters scurry after him, Jane grabbing Keira's hand and pulling her along, like they're five-year-olds in an ice cream parlor, then Keira drags Mary away from the piano and into the room. Why, I do not know. I also want to know why Kitty and Lydia are running around with their hair down. That was definitely not the style then, and aren't all the girls out? Whatever.
Donald Sutherland dramatically reveals that he's already visited Mr. Bingley. The women don't exactly break into applause. "Have you no compassion for my poor nerves?" Mrs. Bennet exclaims. Keira grins at that, because nervous complaints are funny? "You mistake me, my dear," Donald Sutherland replies. "I have the highest respect for them. They've been my constant companions these twenty years." You know what gets on my nerves? Rewriting Austen. The women press him to give up the details; is he handsome? Mary wants to know who they're talking about, but everyone ignores her, because nobody values stupid Mary in this family. Keira makes a supposedly snarky comment about having warts, and Mary plaintively bleats, "Who's got warts?" Lydia, in a super affected way, asks if Mr. Bingley is coming to the ball, and Donald Sutherland says he thinks so. Lydia really freaks out in response, and both she and Kitty attack Jane, demanding a dress or something. I don't know why they're sharing clothes, as none of the girls are the same size. Keira watches them fondly, as is her wont, and displays some disconcertingly pointy teeth in doing so.
Darcy declares Keira to be "Perfectly tolerable [there's an oxymoron], I dare say, but not handsome enough to tempt me." Keira slumps. Yessss. I've been saying this for years about Keira Knightley! Darcy, will you marry me?
Assembly hall. Everyone is dancing around to the fakest sounding music ever, and it looks like Meryton suffered a population explosion. Kitty and Lydia are dancing, and their hair is curled and tied into ponytails instead of being pinned up, as the fashion was then. Mary's hair is also down, and she looks like she's going to die of boredom. Attagirl! "Now if every man in the room does not end the evening in love with you, then I am no judge of beauty," Keira says to her sister Jane. Are we going to have to Christen a new ship? SS Sisterhood or something? Jane and Keira crack about men for a moment, and Keira calls them "humorless poppycocks, in [her] limited experience." She doesn't have limited experience, she has no experience. None. Zilch. Nada. Jane does look rather pretty, though, with her blonde-highlighted bangs. I didn't know that Regency women dyed their hair, but Jane does. "One of these days, Lizzie, someone will catch your eye, and then you'll have to watch your tongue," Jane warns. There was a fandom subgroup that really wanted to see Rosemund Pike cast as Elizabeth, and after hearing her line delivery here, I really want to see it too.
And the dancing is going just fine, when three shadowy figures (Bingley, Miss Bingley, and Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy) step in the hall. The music stumbles to a halt and the dancers abruptly stop, staring at the intruders like it's the Prince Regent himself. Dude. Fire that band. Now.
And I think someone does fire them, and then pulls a wandering string quartet off of the streets of Meryton to replace them, because there's a lengthy pause in the background music as the threesome stand there awkwardly, greeted by some old guy who's supposed to be Sir William Lucas. Keira calls them "painted peacocks" and describes Darcy's brow as "quizzical." As for the first, they haven't even done anything, so that is hardly fair, and as for the second, I repeat myself: it's not really wit if it makes no sense. I kind of hate the way they wrote Keira's lines. Strike that. I really hate it. Keira observes that Darcy looks "miserable," which is quite correct. He looks so depressed, he wants to take a nap. Miss Bingley is one of the few characters wearing an empire waist dress, and her red hair is half-up, half down, and therefore only half stylish. Speaking of halves, Keira's unfortunately nasal friend Charlotte Lucas, who's been there the whole time, I just haven't mentioned her, passes on the information that Darcy has 10,000 a year "and owns half of Derbyshire." (I don't think it really should be "and." "Because" would be more accurate.) "The miserable half?" Keira cracks. I wish she would just shut up. I wish everyone else would start talking and stop staring at the Bingleys and Darcy like they're royalty or whatever. (For those of you who haven't seen the movie, this part is kind of stupid.) When Darcy passes the ladies, they curtsy, and when Keira raises her eyes again, Darcy looks away real quick. Keira giggles. The Bingleys and friend finally reach the other end of the gauntlet, and turn to face the room. Everyone is still staring at them. The Merytonians need to get a life.
Then the replacement band kicks it in gear, and the people go back to partying. Mrs. Bennet immediately begins henpecking her husband to introduce her daughters to Bingley. Donald Sutherland is like, "Why am I even here?! I wasn't here in the book! I don't go to public balls!" Keira tries to get Jane to smile at Bingley, but they are lost in the crowd. Mrs. Bennet doggedly drags them forward, along with Mary, who still looks like she wants to kill herself. Mr. Bennet's presence is decidedly superfluous anyway, as Sir William Lucas promptly introduces Mrs., Mary, Keira, and Jane Bennet. Mrs. Bennet indicates that her other two daughters are making fools of themselves on the dance floor. Miss Bingley is full of contempt. She has reach contempt overload. Sir William grandly introduces Darcy, who looks like it's past his bedtime and looks vaguely at the Bennets bleary-eyed.
Jane and Keira pull Bingley aside, or Bingley pulls Jane and Keira aside, for next thing you know, they are talking near the dance floor. Bingley is a cute redhead, though he looks developmentally disabled when he smiles. Unfortunately, he can't stop smiling. Keira mentions that the Netherfield library is one of the counties's best. Hey, I didn't know that the books came with the house! Cool. Bingley says he's not a reader and prefers being outdoors, then awkwardly backtracks, stammering that he can read and one can read outdoors, of course. Not really, as I said before. And this portrayal of Bingley as a dork comes from where ... ? You know, Emma Thompson did an uncredited rewrite of this movie. I like Emma because she is one of the few actresses who writes as well, and I adore her for putting on an absurd wig to do Prof. Trelawney in Harry Potter, and I love the way she played Elinor in Sense and Sensibility, and I hated the terribly trite and jarringly modern script she wrote for Sense and Sensibility. I hold her responsible for all the stupid stuff in this screenplay. (I hold the director responsible for the cloying amounts of the pretty.) She probably came up with this take on the character, not that Emma knows anything about developing characters anyway.
Well, Jane smooths over Bingleys stupid comments with her dulcet alto, while Keira sneaks a peek at Darcy, who still looks depressed and sleepy.
Kitty and Lydia attack their mother and announce that a regiment of soldiers is coming to Meryton. They squeal. Donald Sutherland makes a cruel comment about the unlikelihood of his daughters becoming nuns. They should have left him at home.
Jane and Bingley dance. The entire line of dancers have forgotten to wear their gloves, as I'm pretty sure the custom was. Oh, well. Keira, tired of waiting on the sidelines, abruptly asks, "Do you dance, Mr. Darcy?" "NotifIcanhelpit," Darcy replies, rather quickly. Ha! Hooray! Woo-hoo! That's cut her down to size! Wait, I'm not supposed to be cheering him on, am I? Well, I am. Keira looks nonplussed, then pissed, then decides not to waste any more time with this bugger and takes off. Darcy looks at his shoes. He's probably being reticent because he's embarrassed by his wig. (Happy now?) Keira finds Miss Lucas and they commiserate. "We are long way from Grosvenor Square, are we not, Mr. Darcy?" Miss Bingley snobs, thinking she knows why he looks half-asleep. Darcy can't take the trouble to reply.
Later, Keira and Miss Lucas are sitting under the bleachers - wait. Under the bleachers? Yes, they're sitting under the bleachers in the middle of the assembly hall. Okay, whatever. We're only ten minutes in. They eavesdrop on Bingley and Darcy conversing. Bingley praises the Bennet sisters, but Darcy declares Keira to be "Perfectly tolerable [there's an oxymoron], I dare say, but not handsome enough to tempt me." Keira slumps. Yessss. I've been saying this for years about Keira Knightley! Darcy, will you marry me? Darcy sends his boyfriend away in an obvious fit of jealousy, and Keira tries to put a happy face on. "If he liked you, you'd have to talk to him," Miss Lucas consoles. Darcy doesn't talk to people who like him. Take a leaf out of his book. Keira repeats the bit about the miserable half of Derbyshire, then laughs at her own joke. Well, her self-esteem is still intact.
Dancing. Boot-scootin', ect. A proper knees-up, as the director put it. Kitty and Lydia's hairstyles really bother me. They're out, dammit. They should pin their hair up! The dance ends and everyone applauds. Bingley is ecstatic, and exclaims that it was the best dance of his life or something. I'm glad I'm not friends with him in real life. He would drive me up a wall. Bingley was dancing with Miss Lucas and he describes her as "most amusing" in one of those fancy-smancy tracking shots. "Oh, yes, I adore her!" Keira says. I break a bottle of alcohol over the SS Who Needs Men? for the Keira/Miss Lucas ship. Mrs. Bennet, perhaps noticing that Bingley looks a lot more jacked up after Miss Lucas than Jane, adds "It is a pity that she's not more handsome." "Mama!" Keira cries, defending her girlfriend. Mrs. Bennet says that Keira will never cop to Miss Lucas's plainness. (She can be unattractive, when seen from the side. Her nose is rather beaky.) Mrs. Bennet babbles about Jane's beauty, and tells them about this creepy old guy who hit on her when she was fifteen as Miss Bingley looks disdainful and Darcy like he needs a nap. "However, he did write her some very pretty verses," Mrs. Bennet concludes, because that's the important part: the poetic record of love. Keira cracks about poetry driving away love, and Darcy pipes up, "I thought that poetry was the food of love." How would he know? And, who knew that he was awake? Keira replies, "Of a fine stout love, it may." May BE, dammit, BE! She says that it only kills burgeoning crushes. "So what do you recommend to encourage affection?" Darcy says. Why does he care what she thinks? They've only just met. "Dancing," Keira replies, with a strained smile. "Even if one's partner is barely tolerable." The music starts again as Darcy gazes at her, probably wondering why someone would want to encourage the affection of someone whom they find barely tolerable, but deciding not to press the point. Keira curtseys, and hurries out of the assembly hall so she can be emo.
Even Jane Austen can only stand so much meta.
Eww. Bed, and Keira and Jane are under the covers. Again, looks cosy, but two minutes under the covers by yourself, and the air will become suffocatingly hot and moist. Try it, you'll see. The sister are definitely close enough to make the shippers on SS Sisterhood very happy. Jane and Keira muse about Bingley's eligibility, but Keira should watch the meta when she calls his riches "convenient." Even Jane Austen can only stand so much meta. Jane says that marriage shouldn't be "driven by a lot of money" (like a car?), and Keira replies, "Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I will end up an old maid." Hey! I'm pretty sure that line isn't from the book, but from the 1995 BBC miniseries. No copyright infringement! Besides, it's not really a logical thing to say. Keira's family can't support her, and she's made no steps to make her own income by any of the various means available to young women in those days, like becoming a governess; so I suppose she's just hoping that deep love will fall into her lap, so to speak. Keira mentions Jane's predisposition to like the world, the same way I am predisposed to hate Keira Knightley, and Jane quickly exempts Darcy from her general approbation. "I still can't believe what he said about you!" she says. I can! I'll believe it for you, okay? "I could more easily forgive his vanity if he had not wounded mine," Keira says, fair-mindedly, and thinks for a moment. Then she brushes over it. Keira and Jane look at each other for a moment, then burst into giggles. Jane wags her head like she's been possessed, and the camera pans outside to the moon. Oookay?
Keira doesn't think that Mrs. Bennet can take credit for making it rain, but of course she can. She has powers. Dark powers.
Breakfast. Despite that Donald Sutherland was dragged along to the dance, Mrs. Bennet decides to recap last night, probably so the screenwriter can include the rather mild joke that Donald Sutherland makes, that Bingley would have been better to sprain his ankle, so that Donald doesn't have to hear about his partners. The Mr. and Mrs. begin to argue, only Donald Sutherland so mumbly and so slumped over in his seat it goes something like this:Mrs. Bennet: Blah blah blah blah!
Donald Sutherland: mumble mumble mumble.
Mrs. Bennet: Shrewish blabblitty blah.
Donald Sutherland: mumble mumble mumble.
Mrs. Bennet: Blah blah blah, blah?
Donald Sutherland: mumble.
The maid interrupts with a letter for Jane. "Praise the Lord," Mrs. Bennet breathes. "We are saved!" Half the girls burst into laughter at this pronouncement, and Jane holds the letter like it's the Holy Grail. Jane quickly reports that Miss Bingley is inviting her to dinner, and is obviously disappointed that Bingley won't be there. Mrs. Bennet takes that as a personal insult, as Jane asks for the carriage. "Certainly not, she'll go on horseback," Mrs. Bennet says, a peculiar look in her eye. The girls are horrified. On cue, it thunders. Mrs. Bennet does not break out into evil laughter, but she should.
So, I guess when it started raining, Keira ran out in the rain, fell into a pool, climbed out, then rain for the laundry, which is still hanging up and is now soaked, grabbed a wet towel, then ran back inside again, because she's now soaked and using a wet towel to dry her hair. Great idea! Mrs. Bennet is, like, see there? Now she has to stay the night. Ha ha ha. "Good grief, woman," says Donald Sutherland, which is the most fitting comment one could make. Keira doesn't think that Mrs. Bennet can take credit for making it rain, but she's got it all wrong. Of course she can. She has powers. Dark powers.
Netherfield. Jane arrives and sneezes. Instant cold: Just Add Water.
AAAAAAH! BINGLEY ENTERS THE BEDROOM, THE MOST PRIVATE PLACE FOR A WOMAN, WHERE THERE IS A SICK, UNMARRIED GIRL COVERED ONLY A NIGHTGOWN, AND EVEN HAS THE GALL TO FAKE-KNOCK ON THE DOOR AFTER HE'S STUCK HIS STUPID CARROTTOP HEAD IN! And dialogue implies that he was the one who took care of her during the night! AAH!
Longbourn. The two youngest and Mrs. Bennet are dyeing ribbons as Keira reads Jane's letter, which informs them that she'll stay at Netherfield until she's recovered from her flu-cold illness thingy. Keira complains that it's ridiculous. "Well, if Jane does die, it will be comfort to know it was in pursuit of Mr. Bingley," Donald Sutherland mumbles. Mrs. Bennet defensively claims that Jane is fine, and Keira adds, "Though she may well perish with the shame of having such a mother." Watch your mouth, young lady! Keira takes off for Netherfield, without even asking for the carriage ...
... even though it's somewhat muddy.
Netherfield breakfast room. Miss Bingley is boringly reading a boring letter to bored Darcy, who is slumped over in his chair, reading the boring newspaper and trying to get his knees under the freakishly short table. Maybe it's supposed to be a coffee table. I feel so sorry for Miss Bingley, with her sister and her husband cut from the film; Miss Bingley really needs a friend. Someone to agree with her that Darcy is so cute, and that that Miss Elizabeth Bennet is so annoying, and that they don't know what Darcy sees in her, honestly. Someone who she can bounce lines off of, and scheme with, and henpeck her brother with. And Darcy, who generally, as a character, finds such joy in the bitchy Miss Bingley, is stuck with a boring version here, one with most of the bitchiness removed. Altogether, it is a stylish yet extremely dull breakfast. (I initially wonder where Bingley's got to, and a horrible thought comes to my mind before I push it aside.) The Butler comes in, and announces Keira, who walks in. The rich people stare at her in horror. My god, they think in unison. She's forgotten to put her hair up! And she's not wearing a bonnet! For so she isn't. And don't tell me that Keira was so distressed about Jane that she didn't bother about her hair, because this website says that it takes about four minutes to twist one's hair up. Then Darcy remembers his manners, and leaps to his feet. Excuse me, I'm going to put that on a loop and watch it three or twenty times.
I'm back. "Good lord, Miss Elizabeth, did you walk here?" Miss Bingley asks. "I did," Keira replies, thinking, Nah, too easy. Darcy looks like he would very much like to say something, but he's forgotten how. Hee. Keira, realizing that they're not going to give her any hints, asks about her sister, and Darcy breaks in, "She's upstairs!" looking soulfully at her. He doesn't call for a servant to take her up or anything. Are we sure he likes her? Keira's like, oooookay? And takes off. Miss Bingley snides something about Keira's dirty hem as Darcy looks down and considers a mid-morning nap.
Sad Suite of Sickness, Second Part. Jane is artistically sick, as is usual. Keira tells her to buck up, and then -
Then BINGLEY ENTERS THE BEDROOM, THE MOST PRIVATE PLACE FOR A WOMAN, WHERE THERE IS A SICK, UNMARRIED GIRL COVERED ONLY A NIGHTGOWN, NO FRICKING UNDERWEAR (BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE UNDERWEAR BACK THEN), AND A COMFORTER, AND EVEN HAS THE GALL TO FAKE-KNOCK ON THE DOOR AFTER HE'S STUCK HIS STUPID CARROTTOP HEAD IN! If that weren't bad enough, the dialogue implies that he was the one who took care of her during the night! AAH! Head go asplodey!
I was afraid of this when he didn't show up for breakfast.
You've only got it half right. You do the bend-and-snap, then they ask you out to dinner.
Longbourn. Donald Sutherland is rambling about his pig, and, as Mrs. Bennet pulls on her gloves, she looks hungrily at the pig's testicles. No, really, she does. Watch it. Mrs. Bennet calls to her husband that Bingley has fallen into her trap and that it his riches will compensate for Jane's poverty. Then she runs out with her two youngest ...
... so they can watch the officers parade into Meryton. Lydia explains the trick of dropping the handkerchief. "They pick it up, and then you're introduced!" No, no, you've only got it half right. You drop your handkerchief, then you do the bend-and-snap, then they ask you out to dinner. Lydia throws her handkerchief into the parade, then looks indignant when none of the military men stop to pick it up.
"My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever," Darcy melodramas. His soul is black, and Evanescence is his music.
Netherfield. The typical "You write uncommonly fast!" scene, wherein Darcy writes a letter and Miss Bingley tries to flirt with him. As in every adaptation I've ever seen, this version retains the lines from Austen's original, but leaves out the pauses that would logically go between them and make dialogue sensible. Keira watches with interest, a book balanced on her lap. Miss Bingley praises Darcy's sister, to whom he is writing, and Bingley quite randomly remarks that all young ladies are so "accomplished." "What do you mean, Charles?" Miss Bingley asks, in a way that clearly means, "Shut up, Charles." Bingley elaborates that he has never heard of a young woman who couldn't embroider cushions and so on. Take note: Bingley and Jane have the exact same personality. Darcy takes Bingley at precisely what he doesn't mean, and agrees that the compliment is given too generally. He claims he only knows "half a dozen" accomplished women. Miss Bingley agrees with him, of course. "Goodness. You must comprehend a great deal in the idea," Keira says mildly. When she speaks, Darcy turns to face her and makes eye contact, instead of keeping his eyes on his letter. Miss Bingley quickly breaks out with a long list of everything one has to know in order to be "accomplished." "And something in her air and manner of walking," Miss Bingley adds, strutting around. "Andofcourseshemustimproverhermindbyexte
And then Miss Bingley asks Keira to "take a turn about the room." Keira, once again, is like, oookay? Miss Bingley gets rather close with the touching. Am I going to have to make a ship for these two? SS Darcy Love? After a little of parading, Miss Bingley asks Darcy to join them. Unlike the other version and in the book, Darcy looks quite uninterested in the girl-on-girl action and has gone back to his letter. Darcy, thinking of something clever, says he will interfere with either of the two motives he imagines Miss Bingley has. Ignoring Keira's advice not to set themselves up for his joke, Miss Bingley demands to know what they are, and Darcy replies, "Either you are in each other's confidence and you have ... secret affairs to discuss, or you are ... conscious that your figures ... appear to the greatest advantage by walking. ... If the first, I should get in your way. If the second, ... I can admire you much better than here." And those pauses are totally for him to think up such a great witticism, and not so that the director can complete this really rad camera move, honest! And I wonder how Darcy can admire them when they spend most of their time behind his back. He seems quite bored by it in comparison to Colin Firth, who was ready to break out the popcorn. The girls non-sequitur to pride somehow, and Keira asks Darcy if pride is a fault or a virtue. "ThatIcouldn'tsay," Darcy replies. As another non-sequitur, Darcy offers his lack of forgiveness as his fault. "My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever," he melodramas. His soul is black, and Evanescence is his music. Darcy goes back to writing, and the girls sit down again. Darcy is, once again, in danger of falling into a boredom-induced coma.
Keira is so embarrassed by her mother that she has actually managed to pass out of the normal plane of existence through sheer force of will. You could put a hand through her if you tried.
Breakfast at Netherfield. Poor, poor Darcy doesn't fit. Looks quite painful. The Butler announces one Mrs. Bennet and three Miss Bennets. "Oh, for heaven's sake, are we to receive every Bennet in the country?" exclaims Miss Bingley. In a word, yes.
The Bennets sit with a unison sigh. Why is Mary with them? Mrs. Bennet ahs and oohs over the room, and takes the opportunity to ask Bingley how long he intends to stay. Bingley praises the country and asks Darcy what he thinks. Darcy calls it "perfectly adequate." Again with the oxymorons. Mrs. Bennet takes offense to his observation that the company is less varied than in town, and protests that they "dine with four and twenty families," and makes a subtle jab at Darcy that probably no one picks up on. Keira is so embarrassed by her mother that she has actually managed to pass out of the normal plane of existence through sheer force of will. You could put a hand through her if you tried. Lydia prompts Bingley to give a ball, and Kitty hysterically giggles, "Oh, do hold a ball!" "Kitty," says Keira. In other words, "Shut up, Kitty." Bingley tells them to name the day. Mary, who shouldn't really be here, pipes up that she thinks balls are irrational and conversation makes more sense, because she can't get anyone to dance with her (subtext). "Indeed, much more rational, but rather less likeable," Miss Bingley replies. Or maybe she says "rather less like a ball." I can't tell. "Thank you, Mary," Keira says. In other words, "Shut up, Mary."
Netherfield front doors. Everyone is loading up. Keira is wearing a man's coat, I swear. She says good-bye to Miss Bingley, shortly curtseys at Darcy, and as she is climbing into the coach, Darcy somehow teleports to her side and helps her in. His hand is huge compared to hers. You know what they say about long fingers. I suppose this is a good omen for Keira, who stares at him. Perhaps she's having the same thoughts. Darcy takes off immediately, flexing the hand that he will never wash again.
"My small rectory abuts her estate," Mr. Collins says, with gusto. He makes that sound dirty.
Longbourn. Guess who's coming to dinner?
Meryton. As Keira explains, it's Mr. Collins, the "dreaded cousin" who will inherit Donald Sutherland's estate when he dies, instead of the "poor females," as Keira puts it. That pisses me off. I bet Emma Thompson wrote that. That reminds me of all the bullshit she wrote in Sense and Sensibility about inheritance.
Longbourn, again. "Mr. Collins, at your service," declares the most adorable little man in a five-foot package.
Mr. Collins eats dinner, rather nervously, watched suspiciously by Keira, Mrs. Bennet, and ... everyone, really. He compliments their boiled potatoes, which he calls an "exemplary vegetable." Is that technically a vegetable? He asks who did the cooking, and Mrs. Bennet, insulted, snaps that they keep a cook. Mr. Collins is glad, because that means that he's going to inherit a more valuable estate than he thought. A nervous little glance around the table, and he starts talking about his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. "My small rectory abuts her estate," Mr. Collins says, with gusto. He makes that sound dirty. He also makes talk about phaetons and ponies sound dirty. Keira is somewhere between amused and weirded out. Donald Sutherland, slumped over in his chair, makes some laughter-like grunts. Mr. Collins continues about Lady Catherine's daughter, supposedly awesome, and how he feels "particularly bound" to compliment "the ladies." Jane looks alarmed. From the depths of his chair, Donald Sutherland makes some remark about flattery, and goes back into his alcoholic meditations. Stealing Mr. Bennet's lines from the book, Keira asks if Mr. Collins studies up before he gives his compliments, and Jane kicks her under the table. Mr. Collins admits that he sometimes plans them, but he tries to give them an "unstudied air." "Believe me, no one would suspect your manners to be rehearsed," Keira says, milking that line for way too much. Lydia disguises her laugh as a cough, and Keira gamely slaps her on the back. Mr. Collins (oh, joy) proposes he reads from Fordyce's Sermons, which, even in Jane Austen's day, was considered a real anti-feminist drag, and mutteringly asks Jane if she knows the book. Jane looks alarmed, knowing that, for him, that's foreplay.
After dinner. Mr. Collins declares that he's got his eyes on Jane. Mrs. Bennet quickly tells him that Jane is "very soon to be engaged." I think Mrs. Bennet is counting her Bingleys before they are wedded, but perhaps she is aware that the potential income from Bingley far outstrips the potential from Mr. Collins - in other words, they can't afford the opportunity cost. "Engaged!" Mr. Collins repeats, looking adorably disappointed. Mrs. Bennet is like, but you can have Keira! Please, take her! Mr. Collins mutters that that's a good idea.
Well, Keira's main claim to fame is this movie she was in about pirates, or zombies, or both, or something, and she was co-starring with this bloke who is a bit of cult figure ever since he wore pointy ears for this somewhat obscure sci-fi movie. (No, not Leonard Nimoy, but good guess.)
Meryton. The square is overrun by redcoats. An unexpected gust of wind - it must be fate! - blows the handkerchief out of Keira's hand, and as she chases it, she complains to Jane, "Mr. Collins is the sort of man who makes you despair at the entire sex." The handkerchief is rescued by an officer who holds if, gives her a smoldering look, and says, "Yours, I believe." Um - say, how much do you people know about Keira Knightley? Well, her main claim to fame is this movie she was in about pirates, or zombies, or both, or something, and she was co-starring with this bloke who is a bit of cult figure ever since he wore pointy ears for this somewhat obscure sci-fi movie. (No, not Leonard Nimoy, but good guess.) Anyway, this particular actor was also British and they were supposedly romantically linked as well, and the actor who's playing Wickham in this movie rather resembles him, and I have trouble believing that's a coincidence. Perhaps it's some kind of meta commentary on the insane attention given to Keira Knightley's private life by the press.
Anyway, Armando Broom picks up Keira's handkerchief and offers it to her; she stares at him as if she has just had a glimpse of heaven. Also, she is gallivanting around with no bonnet on and her hair down; that really bothers me. Lydia and Kitty swarm around Armando; they've already met, and Kitty asks if Keira dropped her handkerchief on purpose as well. Apparently they really do just slip out of one's fingertips like that. Lydia announces that Armando is a lieutenant, pronouncing it the British way, making the 'u' sound like a 'v.' "An enchanted lievtenant," Armando corrects her, still giving Keira the sexy eyes. Is he an elf prince?
Ribbon shop. Armando declares that he's not even going to try to look for ribbons, because he has "very poor taste" in ribbons and buckles. Armando's a freaking liar. He has his hair pulled back in a cute little blue ribbon that he obviously fussed over for hours. He totally stole that look from Lucius Malfoy. Keira asks if his lack of ribbon-fu exposes him the ridicule of his superiors? What do they do with him? "Ignore me," Armando says. "I'm of next to no importance, so it's easily done." Like Darcy, he too listens to Evanescence. I didn't think that officers had it so bad, considering the oodles of free time on Armando's hands, the girls that flock to him, and the invitations to balls that he is given. Keira just smirks and goes back to the ribbons, because she doesn't care about the trials of others. Lydia asks for a loan, and when Keira balks, Mr. Broom gives her some money in the middle of the shop. But - but - her reputation! Oh, well, it was in the trash anyway.
Walking home, Keira and Armando talk about the war a little - imagine that. Talking about current events. Jane spots Bingley and Darcy on horseback, across a little stream from them. Lydia shows off her new ribbons, waving them about so that Bingley can hardly get a glimpse at them. Darcy is clinging rather desperately to his horse. He looks scared of falling off. Aww. Lydia embarrasses Jane, then dances behind Armando and asks Bingley to invite him. Armando looks pissed. He glares at Darcy. Boy, if he only had his bow and quiver with him! Darcy looks the same as he always does, and turns his horse around with great difficulty. Bingley watches his friend escape with puzzlement, calls out that of course Armando is welcome, and then chases Darcy down to get an explanation. He's as bad with horses as Darcy is. Keira knows something is up.
Well, Armando, I can't say that I wouldn't hate you too if I were Darcy. You and your stupid father-love stealing ribbon-wearing ponytailed girly-man self.
Perhaps their journey home was cut off by the rain. Keira and Armando Broom rest under a tree, and it's quite picturesque. Keira takes the opportunity to politely inquire if Armando, perhaps, knows Mr. Darcy? Does he ever. In the Biblical sense (sorry!). Armando says he's known Darcy "since infancy," and that Keira should be surprised by "our cold greeting this afternoon." I wouldn't be. I hate a lot of people I've known since birth. Several of them are related to me. Keira hopes that Darcy's presence won't spoil Meryton for him, and Armando sulks that Darcy is the one who will have to go away. He gives a treebranch an angry look. Stupid trees. Any decent fellow would spill the beans at this point, but Keira has to ask for the juicy gossip first. Armando claims that Darcy's dad loved him like a second son - loved Armando, not Darcy. Darcy he loved like a first son, I suppose. "With his last breath, his father bequeathed me the rectory in his estate," Armando says. I hope he was terribly cliche about it. Armando seems to love cliches. "But Darcy ignored his wishes and gave the living to another man," Armando concludes. Keira asks why, and Armando has the answer: "Jealousy! His father ... Well, he loved me better and Darcy couldn't stand it." Hey, hey, aren't you supposed to leave that part in the subtext? Well, Armando, I can't say that I wouldn't hate you too if I were Darcy. You and your stupid father-love stealing ribbon-wearing ponytailed girly-man self. I would take great joy in stealing your inheritance. Muah-ha-ha-ha. "So now, I'm a poor foot soldier, too lowly even to be noticed," Armando concludes. Sniff. His story! So touching! And now he's too lowly to even be invited to social events, like Bingley's ball! Oh, wait. Keira has a huge crush on him, and you can just see her contemplated what Armando would look like with a bleach and ear extensions.
Jane Bennet, spy extraorindaire!
Longbourn. I hate montages like this, because they're difficult to recap. Well, the maid sings and everyone's getting read for the ball. Kitty and Lydia are putting on their corsettes. See, that's why they should be wearing the Empire waist dresses: no rib-crunching, just lift and separate. Far more comfortable. Jane is dressing Keira's hair, instead of Sally, from the book. Jane doesn't think that Darcy could have been so mean, mean, mean to Armando Broom, and proposes to "discover the truth." Jane Bennet, spy extraorindaire! Keira snaps that it's Darcy's job to defend himself, not Bingley's, and she's absolutely right. "Till he does, I hope never to encounter him," Keira says. Um, how's he supposed to defend himself if you won't talk to him? And if you don't want to see him, here's a hint: don't go to the party at his house. Jane is insanely beautiful in her corset and petticoats, but it's hard to get a glimpse of her, because all the shots favor Keira.
I've missed the scene wherein Bingley tells Darcy that if he doesn't want to party, he can just go to bed early, mostly because it puts in my mind the image of Darcy, clad in a cap and nightshirt, huddled under the covers and pressing a pillow to his ears, trying to drown out the sound of the revellers below.
Netherfield. Lots of people are here. Including Mr. Collins, who was messing around with the carriages, and starts poking his way towards the house. He really is rather cute. A travel-sized awkward sex god, I tell you. The Bingley sibs greet everyone at the door. Darcy is totally not there. He probably refused to. You know, in every adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I've missed the scene wherein Bingley tells Darcy that if he doesn't want to party, he can just go to bed early, mostly because it puts in my mind the image of Darcy, clad in a cap and nightshirt, huddled under the covers and pressing a pillow to his ears, trying to drown out the sound of the revellers below. Bingley greets Jane, Keira, and Mary. He notices that Keira is looking for someone, but Keira denies that she is. Miss Bingley's countenance gives no hint that she has forgotten to put her dress on over her slip. Oopsie. And I don't mean to disparage Jane's skill as a hairdresser, but Keira's beehive isn't really attractive.
Keira wonders around, but no Armando. No lowly blacksmiths with hearts, etc., of gold either. Oh, god, look behind you! It's Darcy! He's going to kill you! Or possibly ask you to dance! Oh, never mind, there he goes. Keira finds Miss Lucas besides the dancers, and they go looking for Armando. This is all in one tracking shot that is unbelievably, breath-takingly beautiful. Oh, and Keira forgot to wear gloves. Again. Jane runs forward to tell Keira that Armando has "been detained." That's code for "ran away like a little coward." Mr. Collins runs forward. It's more apparent, now than ever, that Mr. Collins is only about four feet tall. He asks Keira to dance. She's surprised that he does, and Mr. Collins mutters about the office of the clergyman, and claims to have "lightness of foot." I find it difficult to imagine that his fifty pounds would ever be weighty on his feet. And Miss Lucas is totally checking him out.
Dancing line. Jane is dancing besides Keira, and tries to tell her what her spy network has told her about Mr. Broom, while Mr. Collins tries to flirt with her. Their lines overlap and they are continually interrupted by the steps of the dance. It's quite funny, and points out what I've always wondered about the Austen characters, why they are so determined to dance while talking when it seems rather difficult. "Apparently, your Mr. [Broom] has been called on some business to town," Jane says. "Tobesure,dancingisoflittleconsequenceto
But I guess she gets away from him somehow, for the next thing you know, Keira and Miss Lucas are laughing about something and running into Mr. Darcy's chest. Way to follow up on a line, there, director! Darcy's chest asks Keira to dance. She says yes. He immediately walks away, to put on his dancing shoes. Keira pulls Miss Lucas to the pantry, so they can indulge in "artistic" lighting, and fumes, "Did I just agree to dance with Mr. Darcy?" No, whatever gave you that idea? You agreed to be his towel boy. Miss Lucas assure her that Mr. Darcy will be "very amiable," and Keira whines, "It would be most inconvenient, since I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity." She and Miss Lucas burst into laughter, for no apparent reason, and Miss Lucas clasps her cheeks. SS Who Needs Men?.
Dance line, again. The violin begins to play my favorite music of the film. Naturally, it's the only period piece, written by Purcel, actually. I think. They dance for about two seconds before Keira breaks the silence and makes a comment about the music. Darcy agrees. Keira says it's his turn to say something. She recommends something about the size of the room, or the number of couples. "I am perfectly happy to oblige. Please advise me of what you would most like to hear," Darcy replies. Look who woke up on the right side of the bed! And, I think she wants you to say something about the size of the room or the number of couples. Keira says that will do, and right now silence is acceptable. Darcy wonders where he picked up such a weird girl, who talks about having a conversation instead of actually having one. "Do you talk, as a rule, while dancing?" he asks. No, no, no, no! The line is, "Do you talk by rule as you dance?" For god's sake, that's not even close. Keira replies she prefers to be "unsociable and taciturn," clearly meaning that he's unsociable and taciturn. Darcy asks if she and her sisters walk to Meryton. Perhaps he's expecting her to reply that they usually ride unicorns. Keira says they do, and adds, "It's a great opportunity to meet new people," apparently addressing a woman with pearls in her hair because Darcy is nowhere near her. I wonder why Darcy brought that up, because it gives Keira an opening to mention Armando. "Mr. [Broom] is blessed with such happy manners, he is sure of making friends. Whether he is capable of retaining them is less certain," Darcy replies, evenly enough. He doesn't really sound upset. Mildly concerned, I'd say. Keira points out that Armando has lost Darcy's friendship, and is that permanent? "It is." The dance allows Darcy and Keira to stand very close and have a heated exchange about his puzzling character. It should be no surprise that Darcy doesn't bleat, "He screwed over my sister!" to the crowd on the dance floor. Then, whoosh, they dance right into a wormhole, which instantly transports them into a parallel universe, wherein the ballroom is empty aside from them. It looks a lot smaller without people, too. I'm not sure what the director is going for, here. If this is from Keira's point of view, it's a bit early, isn't it? And if it's an attempt to make Darcy seem really creepy, then they've half succeeded, but it needs a little more oompf. There's a moment when I'm sure they are going to let the people magically reappear, but it doesn't happen, and they awkwardly cut back to the dance. Well, then. They shouldn't dance any more, if that's going to happen again.
As Keira stomps away from the dance, Mr. Collins appears, not to chide her for dancing with someone else, but to ask if that was Darcy of Pemberley? Yes? Well, Mr. Collins must go introduce himself at once, for Darcy is Lady Catherine de Bourgh's nephew. Keira is like, no! He will eat you! Mr. Collins sneaks up behind Darcy, and tries to get his attention, but he's too short. He should tug on his coattails. Finally, our favorite fun-sized hunk of love loudly clears his throat, and Mr. Darcy turns around so quickly he nearly decapitates Mr. Collins with his elbow. Unfortunately, Mr. Collins has also captured the attention of the room, and they stare at him with curiosity as he begins to introduce himself. "What interesting relatives you have, Miss [Keira]," Miss Bingley snobs. Darcy appears to be listening to Mr. Collins with all politeness - in fact, there's nothing really embarrassing about him - but Keira walks off immediately, to find Mary dourly singing a sad song about a plough and hoe. If Mary lived today, she'd be a goth. Donald Sutherland shuts the piano and tells her to let the other girls at it. Mary looks devastated, and runs off. Aww. Mr. Collins is poking his head around, looking for Keira again. Bingley is walking behind Jane, trying to tell her something boring about his horses. Jane doesn't appear to be interested, and seems to be walking away from her. Bingley grabs her sash, like he's hanging on to his last thread. Mrs. Bennet is swinging her heels, drinking, and bragging about her catch of Mr. Bingley. Darcy walks down the stairs, throws her a dismissive glance, and stalks off. Wait! How did he get upstairs? He was just downstairs, dancing with Keira! Mr. Collins is still adorably lost. Kitty and Lydia are drunk, and also teleport themselves onto the dance floor. All of this is in one tracking shot. Amazing, really. Then they go into a dialogue scene between Keira and Miss Lucas! What a gutsy move. My hat's off for everyone involved in this production, it's truly beyond words. Keira and Miss Lucas are watching Bingley watching Jane dance with someone else. Miss Lucas observes that Jane ought to give Bingley more encouragement. "She's just shy and modest!" Keira claims. Beside the point, Keira. "We are all fools in love!" Miss Lucas declares. Okay, whatever, ladybird, because an lifelong unromantic is an expert in love. (The actress who plays Miss Lucas, by the way, should never let anyone take a profile shot of her.)
The camera moves on to Miss Bingley, dancing with Darcy, who complains that she's afraid someone will make them chase a pig. I don't know, that might liven the party up a bit. I'm sad to say I like them better together than Darcy and Keira. Mrs. Bennet spills some Jell-O on a hapless gentleman. Poor, poor Mr. Collins looks forlornly at the world's most pathetic flower. Seriously. Flower is too dignified a term for it. It's more of a bit of grass. Mr. Collins sighs, because nobody really likes him. Donald Sutherland finds Mary crying in a corner, and hugs her so she can indulge in some obviously ADR'd dialogue: "I've been practicing all week! I hate balls!" And the camera finally finds Keira in the broom closet.
The sun is up before the Bennets drive away in their carriage. I think they are the last to leave, because they had to find Keira. The girls are sweetly slumped over in the seat, sleeping. Bingley waves from the door, and his sister snots, "Charles, you cannot be serious." Well, Mrs. Bennet thinks he is.To be continued!