Do not take guys to see this movie. Trust me on this one. Aside from the not-so-subtle snickers I heard from the guys in the audience when I saw it, and the fact that my boyfriend turns slightly white at the mere mention of names resembling “Darcy” or “Bennett,” this is simply just a chick flick. It’s got weepy romance, fancy outfits, period dialogue, and sweeping music – and if that doesn’t get them, the awkward skinny dipping scene with male nudity most definitely will.
If you’re still interested, and as an admitted Jane Austen junkie myself I certainly still was, this movie is basically the “true story” of Pride and Prejudice, loosely based on people and events in Jane Austen’s life. If you’re in the mood for it, it can be a thoroughly enjoyable and sort of cathartic romantic experience. It’s got everything: unrecognized and star-crossed love, meddling parents and would-be lovers, and of course, the premise of being based on real life (although no one, after seeing this movie, would mistake its story for a true story; this never pretends to be a biography).
Unfortunately, the film can’t quite decide what it wants to be. Does it want to be a dramatic romance, complete with “you’ve captured my heart and soul” type dialogue and gut-wrenching partings? Or does it want to be a slightly silly and risque romantic comedy, complete with blatant and somewhat foolish sexual allusions? (at one point, James McAvoy’s Tom LeFroy tells Anne Hathaway’s Jane Austen that she must “widen” her horizons with experience – and the emphasis on “widen” is not mine – after reading to her a description of birds engaged in, shall we say, naturally necessary acts) Or does it, as a Miramax movie, want to be a serious art-house film, with elaborate outfits and settings and grave discussions of class and women’s position in society?
Sadly, it never makes up its mind. But while it’s muddling that over, you can enjoy watching and crying over two pretty people having fun with complicated dialogue and passionate love scenes. Bring Kleenex and a (girl) friend.