Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Bewitched me, body and soul"

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and the only classic that has ever made me feel—for want of a precise English translation— “kilig”. Indeed, very few contemporary books have given me the kind of kilig that I derive from Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s deliciously dynamic love-hate relationship. So when a contemporary movie (and the nth remake in a long line of British film adaptations) attempts to capture the clashing and coming together of Austen’s immortal couple, I am wary of the potential damage they could do.

Fortunately, Working Title’s production of Pride and Prejudice lives up to both the Oscar hype surrounding it, and the beauty of the original Austen novel as well. Kiera Knightley deserves her surprise nomination for Best Actress; as Elizabeth Bennett, she is fiery, independent, headstrong, yet allows the audience occasional glimpses of the heroine’s emotional vulnerability. With the kind of mature talent she displays in this role, this young actress has a long, illustrious career ahead of her. Her onscreen chemistry with Matthew MacFadyen is as magnetic as the Lizzie-Darcy connection should be (MacFadyen is a delightful discovery— a more refined, British Hugh Jackman). Even as part of a generation of desensitized media babies who see stark naked couples screwing each other senseless and don’t even get excited anymore, I find myself over the moon about a movie with nary a love scene in it (not even one chaste kiss!). My favorite scene: Mr. Darcy has just helped Elizabeth into her carriage, and as he walks away, there’s a close-up shot of his hand flexing in shock reaction after grasping Elizabeth’s, as if zapped by a jolt of electricity. Such a simple, fleeting moment, yet it set my heart all aflutter. And when Mr. Darcy straightforwardly declares to Elizabeth, “You have bewitched me, body and soul. I love, I love, I love you”, I was reduced to a puddle of goo.

Kudos to the stellar supporting cast: lovely Rosamund Pike as demure Jane Bennett; formidable Dame Judi Dench (the Queen Bitch herself! I grovel at her feet!) as cruel Lady Catherine; hyperactive Brenda Blethyn as the incorrigible Mrs. Bennett; and of course, the superb Donald Sutherland as reserved Mr. Bennett. In spite of my Elizabeth Bennett-worthy emotional defense mechanisms, I was sniffling in the final scene between Lizzie and her father, when he is brought to tears as he realizes his favorite daughter really is in love.

Modern romantic movies can learn a thing or two from Austen in cooking up a great love story: no wishy-washy leading ladies, no smooth-talking leading men, no mushy dialogue, no torrid kissing or bedroom scenes. Just strong characters who remain true to themselves, complement each other intellectually and emotionally, and fall deeply, madly, passionately in love.


At Tuesday, February 28, 2006, Anonymous mishy said...

Ailee, check out Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It's also nakakakilig. You're right, a subtle "jolt of electricity" or "tingles up the spine" make up a more romantic scene compared to torrid kissing and sexual chemistry that end up in an indecent love scene. Yuk!

At Tuesday, February 28, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

I have never seen a Bollywood film, that might be worth checking out. :)

And I'd like to clarify my stand: not all torrid kissing and sex are icky, even when they are perceived to be (see Brokeback Mountain, hehehe).

At Wednesday, March 01, 2006, Anonymous mishy said...

Ailee, I have a DVD, pero medyo malabo. I can lend it to you when we see each other (hopefully sometime soon, hint hint!) It's a fun film though, complete with all the song & dance numbers typical to Bollywood movies. The whole film's in English, and Aishwarya Rai, the Queen of Bollywood, plays Lalita Bakshi, Elizabeth Bennet's curry-loving alter ego. =)

At Wednesday, March 01, 2006, Anonymous jen ong said...

It was fun to watch Pride and Prejudice on the first day of showing in a practically empty theater that contained only OLD people (as in Grandma-Grandpa OLD people :P) on a school day.

Indeed, Pride and Prejudice just shows how you can have a romantic movie without all those kissing and sex scenes. I absolutely love Elizabeth Bennett's character. For some reason, I find myself identifying with her character a lot of times.

Matthew McFayden is oh so fiiiine. Hmmmm. Now I want my Mr. Darcy. Perhaps I should go to London to find him :D

At Wednesday, March 01, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Gee, you and the fiery, independent, headstrong Elizabeth Bennett? I don't see the similarities. xp

"We are all fools in love" my dear. And someday our Mr.Darcys will come. ;)

At Thursday, August 23, 2007, Blogger sugeina said...

even after years since watching it, i still remember that "jolt of electricity" scene. now, i want to watch it again.

did you write a review for "meet joe black" ?

this blog is such a good find. i just hate it that i found it off a "malu fernandez" search.

At Friday, August 24, 2007, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

I'm afraid Meet Joe Black was shown well before I started blogging (I believe I was still in college then), so I never wrote a review of it. It still remains my favorite Brad Pitt movie though (I never really fully understood his appeal until that first scene in the coffee shop with Claire Forlani), and the conversation between Marcia Gay Harden and Anthony Hopkins in the garden still gives me the sniffles every time I manage to catch it on HBO. :)

P.S. Oh scratch that. Fight Club is my favorite Brad Pitt movie. Meet Joe Black comes second.

P.P.S. At least we can thank Malu Fernandez for this much: my blog got a new reader (which brings the grand total to, oh, roughly 9), and you found a way to reduce your productivity at the office. Haha.


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