BRIDE AND PREJUDICE reviews for opening night

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We hope our readers in the U.S. and Canada who haven’t seen the movie get to do so this weekend! Remember, the rhythm is going to get you! (Mr. Kholi said so!) Read on for the latest reviews, and then post your review in the comments.

The reviews are still coming in, and are mixed, but we do not entirely despair of the state of modern film criticism. Continue reading

Get your fresh hot B&P reviews here

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The wide release of BRIDE AND PREJUDICE tomorrow has spawned a new set of reviews, which, curiously, we found a great deal more enjoyable than the big-name reviews that preceded it. Perhaps because there is more thought going into these reviews (well, most of them) and less hipper-than-thou posturing. (Was anyone else reminded of Perpetua from the Bridget Jones books when reading some of the snottier reviews earlier? No?)

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times (via the Monterey County Herald) tries very hard to be as hip and snobby as his counterparts (how Darcy of him), but there’s something about B&P that he can’t help liking:

Jane Austen comes from sturdy stock. She prospered in posh Beverly Hills in “Clueless” and survived a transplant to trendy London in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

Now it’s India’s turn, and Austen proves to be more than up to the switch in scenery in Gurinder Chadha’s lively and cheerful “Bride & Prejudice.”

We’re fairly certain that Mr. Turan is a Janeite; he’s certainly familiar with the story. It will be interesting to compare his comments on P&P3 when it comes out this year.

Phil Villarreal in the Arizona Daily Star is quite pleased with the film and doesn’t scruple to tell us so.

People complain that today’s movies don’t have enough romance, don’t have enough understatement, don’t have enough elegance.

No one gripes, though, that the movies don’t have enough “Pride and Prejudice.”

Jane Austen’s romantic comedy of prestige marriages and love jeopardized by misunderstanding is eternally up for movie treatment, now in Gurinder Chadha’s “Bride & Prejudice,” which joyfully infuses the story with the trappings of Indian “Bollywood” musicals.

Each revamp of “Pride” must work feverishly to differentiate itself from the pack. The Internet Movie Database lists seven adaptations of the book as films, miniseries and TV movies. And that doesn’t even count “Snide and Prejudice” (1997). Just last year there was a Mormon update of “Pride,” and Keira Knightley is starring in a British version due out this year. The only frontier left to conquer for the lovelorn Lizzie Bennet and crew is outer space.

Oh Lord. Don’t give George Lucas any ideas.

We were also vastly amused by the worldly-wise stylings of Shawn Patrick Green of the University of Arizona Daily Wildcat, who is very decided in his opinions for so young a person.

The novelty of this film, aside from it being a cheesy Bollywood musical, is that it’s based on Jane Austen’s book “Pride and Prejudice.” If you’ve read the book, (which I, being a guy, haven’t) you’ll recognize a lot of characters and situations that were present in the novel (according to Cliffs Notes).

We think that paragraph tells you pretty much all you need to know about this review. We also think the two previous reviewers, not to mention some of our readers, might disagree with Mr. Green on whether it is possible for men to read a Jane Austen novel. 🙂

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE article roundup

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There is still plenty of media attention on BRIDE AND PREJUDICE, since it is has not yet gone into wide release (that will happen this Friday, February 25).

Big Picture News (via the Chicago Sun-Times) has an article about Naveen Andrews, who plays Balraj, the Bingley character. The article is mostly about his new stardom related to the hit series LOST, but he also comments on his role in B&P.

He was also intrigued with jumping into the Bollywood film world. “Bride and Prejudice,” based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, is set in an Indian village where Mrs. Bakshi is trying to marry off her four beautiful daughters.

Andrews signed on because he liked the feel of the film.

“I thought it seemed like one of those ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ movies,” he says. “It had that raucous good feeling to it with a lot of joyful attitude.

“Let’s face it. It’s hard to be lighthearted in this day and age.”

The Toronto Sun (via canoe.ca) has an article about Gurinder Chadha.

Chadha is happy to report that one of the results of her film is a renewed interest in Austen’s novel, Pride And Prejudice.

“You do feel as if you want to go and read it again,” she says, noting that because of the movie, the Jane Austen Society of North America has now made her an honorary lifetime member. “I was nervous about that reaction, but they love it.”

Scripps Howard News Service (via the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette) has an article about Alexis Bledel, who plays Georgiana Darcy, and apparently shares some of her character’s traits.

The 23-year-old star of “Gilmore Girls” doesn’t like to do interviews. She feels uncomfortable answering questions about herself and almost never comments on her personal life.

Yet even as she politely makes those limits known, she is gracious about why. “It’s almost more natural to be in character on a set,” she says. “That’s a controlled environment where you know where the boundaries are. In a public situation with reporters, it’s more evasive.

“It feels evasive to me.”

We were amused by this tidbit:

Shyness got her into show business. Her parents encouraged her to try community theater when she was 8 years old, hoping it would help her overcome her shyness.

We expect some enterprising fan fiction writer to run with that one!

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE latest in film remakes of classic tales

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Philippa Hawker in The Age points out that BRIDE AND PREJUDICE is not the only film to put a modern, multicultural twist on a classic tale–or even a classic Jane Austen tale.

In 2000, Sense and Sensibility was the basis for Kandukondain, a modern tale of two sisters and their differing attitudes towards love. It came not from Hindilanguage Bollywood, but from Tamil Southern India – popularly known as “Kollywood”. Its cast included Bride and Prejudice star Aishwarya Rai.

Ms. Hawker mentions the recent resurge in adaptations of Jane Austen films:

A decade later, the Austen appetite has still not been sated. In 2003, Pride and Prejudice received a Mormon makeover – in a smallscale Salt Lake City production, Elizabeth Bennet was presented as a college student and an aspiring writer dealing with college life and a snotty English guy. A bigger budget period Pride and Prejudice, with Keira Knightley (of Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean), is due for release later this year.

…and also notes that Hollywood AND Bollywood love the formula of placing a time switch or cultural change on a classic story.

Among the classics, Shakespeare, too, appears to have a perpetual screenwriting credit, whether the films are made straight, tonguein- cheek, in another language, modernised or given dance numbers and songs: Kiss Me Kate and West Side Story; Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive Romeo + Juliet, all musical numbers, guns and sartorial style; Othello as a college basketball star (O); The Taming of the Shrew as a teen movie (Ten Things I Hate About You); Ethan Hawke as Hamlet, Al Pacino as Richard III.

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE does respectable box office in limited release

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Reuters has the weekend box office report, including the take for the limited release of BRIDE AND PREJUDICE:

In the limited-release world, “Bride and Prejudice,” a “Bollywood”-inspired update of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” opened with a strong $388,000 from 32 theaters. It was released by Disney’s Miramax Films.

In other B&P news, several of the Sunday papers had in-depth articles about Gurinder Chadha, the film’s director. The San Francisco Chronicle talks about how Ms. Chadha’s background as an Indian growing up in the U.K. affects the themes of her films. Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer talks with Ms. Chadha about the similarities between Jane Austen’s story and contemporary Indian culture. Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post tells of Ms. Chadha’s frustrations at being unable to make the films she wanted to make before BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.

Roundup of B&P reviews and news

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The reviews are still coming in, and the reviewers on this side of the pond apparently don’t want to be behind their British and Indian counterparts in panning the film. We are unsure how much it has to do with a distaste for Jane Austen’s stories in general.

For instance, Bob Strauss of U Film says that the movie is a pretty good adaptation of Jane Austen, that is, if you like that sort of thing.

Manohla Dargis of the New York Times is scathing. We’d guess, not a Jane fan.

David Germain of the Associated Press (via CNN) isn’t thrilled with this Darcy.

Palo Alto Online doesn’t really get it.

Anhoni Patel of SF Station is lukewarm in his praise, thinking the story lightweight. (No AustenBlog brownie points for you!)

David Thomas of Filmcritic.com likes the humor but thinks the film misses the mark as either a romantic comedy or a sharp political commentary.

Carla Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle likes it, but she is obviously a Janeite (huzzah!).

Tom Long of the Detroit News says, “Relax and have a good time!” Huzzah! But he loses brownie points for the “worn strictures of Austen’s novel” comment. Grrrrr.

Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (who we understand from mutual acquaintances is fond of Jane) says that B&P isn’t as funny as CLUELESS or as wry as PERSUASION (and we would agree with her) but it’s pretty good on its own merits.

Incidentally, reading the many reviewers who found no chemistry between Lalita and Darcy, we really feel we must state that, as we spent half the movie muttering between clenched teeth, “Kiss her, dammit!” it is fairly obvious that we disagree. Just saying.

The Editrix reviews BRIDE AND PREJUDICE

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We have been anticipating this movie impatiently for months, and are pleased to report that we were not at all disappointed. BRIDE AND PREJUDICE is a frothy, funny, delightful confection; Bollywood enough to be interesting and Hollywood enough to be familiar.

Aishwarya Rai’s Lalita is an intelligent and independent-thinking woman who can still sing wistfully that she is waiting for love to find her. She cherishes her prejudices about Darcy and is loath to let them go; he has to win her over, and win her away from the charming Wickham and his own mistakes. It’s no secret that Ash is a beautiful woman, and she is obviously a star, but she doesn’t depend on her looks to carry her in this film. She has real talent, and there is strong chemistry between Ash and her Darcy.

Martin Henderson is a terrific Darcy: tall and handsome, unthinkingly snobbish in the beginning and revealing himself as a warm and caring brother and romantic partner as the film progresses. If he was a little stiff, we think it was because he was fighting the accent a bit (he is actually a New Zealander), but he was quite believable as an American. Besides, Darcy is supposed to be stiff! And no other Darcy ever had as good an excuse to beg off dancing with his Elizabeth! 😆 Henderson gives in to Chadha’s gleeful humiliation of Darcy, and humanizes the character thoroughly in the process. We found him perfectly delightful.

The minor characters are great: Mr. and Mrs. Bakshi are thoroughly recognizable avatars for Mr. and Mrs. Bennet: we clapped, more than once, when Mr. Bakshi dryly delivered one of those Mr. Bennet lines. Johnny Wickham is sexy and slimy, Lakhi (Lydia) is thoughtlessly trampy, Maya’s snake dance is as hilarious as Mary Bennet’s bad singing, Kiran is as perfectly snooty as Caroline Bingley, and Marsha Mason’s Catherine Darcy (Will’s mother, not his aunt) is withering both to the Bakshis and her own son. No Georgian-set film ever had so many gorgeous costumes or stunningly beautiful women, and there is no lack of handsome men, either. We have had a crush on Naveen Andrews since THE ENGLISH PATIENT, and his “Indian M.C. Hammer” bit only served to increase his many charms. Nitin Chandra Ganatra is a standout as Mr. Kholi, the expat who blows into Amritsar bada-bing-bada-boom, looking for an old-fashioned Indian girl for his wife and providing quite as much comic relief as the rector of Hunsford.

The Janeites who attended the film with us mostly loved it as well, though one purist in our group didn’t think much of it. The rest of us were dancing in the theatre lobby and singing “No Life Without Wife” all the way home. Gurinder Chadha’s experimental combination of Bollywood and Hollywood works, and we think Jane Austen would have approved of this reimagining of her classic story. Trust us: the rhythm IS going to get you!

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE review roundup

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Minnesota Daily likes the movie but is not overly enthusiastic.

The Chicago Tribune compares it to an Elvis Presley musical.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Detroit News and the San Jose Mercury News have articles about Gurinder Chadha.

The Houston Press abuses adverbs and wrinkles its nose in a hipper-than-thou manner.

Photos from the New York premiere.

Ash on Letterman

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Wow. She IS Lizzy Bennet. 😆

Also, Richard Corliss of Time thinks Darcy is a stiff. Get in line, dude.

The New York premiere is Wednesday (today!) at the UA Union Square Theatre. We are sure there will be photos tomorrow.

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE news and reviews

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We dare say we shall have news about B&P every day between now and the premiere of the film on Friday. (The Editrix is attending a special pre-release screening on Thursday night, and her review will be available late that night or early Friday morning, as the case may be.)

Reuters has an article about the film that talks about the similarities between Jane Austen’s world and the world of BRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

“What’s incredible about this is that even though Jane Austen was writing 200-odd years ago, she was writing at a time when women were not considered whole unless they were married,” the Kenyan-born, British-raised Chadha said in an interview before the film’s U.S. debut.

“That is still very relevant to many places around the world, and particularly small town India,” she said.
[…]
Driving the film, which opens nationwide on Feb. 25, was “the idea that people are the same and different,” she said.

“People have the same prejudices, people have as much pride and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, we are all the same, and different and that I feel needs to be noted, but also celebrated,” said Chadha.

The New York Daily News has an article about Naveen Andrews, who plays Balraj Bingley (is that really the character’s name?). The article points out that the character couldn’t be less like Naveen’s character on the television show LOST.

But in “Bride & Prejudice,” a musical version of Jane Austen’s classic novel opening Friday, Andrews plays Balraj Bingley, the good friend of Mr. Darcy, the story’s romantic hero.

Instead of early 19th-century ­England, the setting is modern India. And in place of a formal ball, the actors participate in what Andrews describes as “a strange amalgamation of traditional Indian dance crossed with MC Hammer.”

Those AustenBlog readers who are, like the Editrix, fans of Sayid on LOST will find find some interesting news in the article as well.

EDITED TO ADD: In other news, MSNBC doesn’t think much of the film.