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Under Her Eye review: Pride and Prejudice

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Read the shortlisted Under Her Eye reviews then vote for your favourite.

As part of Stylist’s Under Her Eye initiative, we’re on the hunt for three new female film critics. We asked aspiring reviewers to send in a 450-word review of their favourite film – and after an overwhelming response, we’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of 20. 

Read one woman’s review of Pride and Prejudice below and click here to see the other entries and vote for your favourite.

On my shelf, sandwiched between Ali Smith and Frankenstein, sits a battered copy of Pride and Prejudice (I haven’t alphabetised, sue me). Also on my shelf, piled on top of DVDs but within grabbing distance, sits my copy of Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. If a DVD could be well-thumbed, it would be.

In my younger years, Pride and Prejudice was to me was a simple love story. As I’ve grown older, it’s become apparent that yes, it is a story of love – but love of all kinds. Bubbling under the surface of a will-they-won’t-they romance is the story of an enduring love for family and community. It’s a story of female strength, sisterhood, and the small defiance of social norms. It’s a story filled with small triumphs of power – and of the possibility of a happy ending, in all its forms.

It’s dual purpose: I watch it as a masterclass in composition, and I watch it on a Sunday afternoon while I’m cooking dinner.

Visually, for example, it’s stunning. It’s true Joe Wright excess, full of frocks and with an attention to minute detail in the set design that imbues every scene with a rich feeling of being lived in. He constructs rooms that are full of life, character, and a visceral bustle that drives the feeling of the film – not the plot, but its spirit. There’s the perfect location choices, from sprawling English meadows to regal stately homes, all shot with a beautiful pastel colour palette to give the film a slight halcyon blur around the edges. Pride and Prejudice knows that explicitly it’s a Jane Austen story, and it vamps it up to extraordinary levels.

It’s obvious, too, that Wright knew the book – and knew its strengths. He lifts some segments of dialogue almost verbatim, but intersperses it with conversation that feels almost contemporary in tone. The result is a script that luxuriates in romanticism, but never feels weighed down by it. It, like everything in the film, strikes a nuanced balance between an elegant distance providing escapism and an intrinsic humanity that you pulls you closer to the characters.

But there’s something more crucial and undefinable to a favourite film. I could carry on dissecting Pride and Prejudice bit by bit for another 500 words – the costume design, Dario Marianelli’s score, the cinematography – but I’d might never convince you that it was my favourite film. Your favourite film lives somewhere in your chest for reasons you can never 100 percent explain, for reasons you’ll never share with a single soul. You can only really explain it with one sentence.

It makes me happy.

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