Friday, November 11, 2005

Is it possible?

I'm not inquiring about the possibility of talking cars on the market in a couple of years, but that's cool, too. Nor the miraculous possible reprieve of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. What's truly implausible is the notion that Pride & Prejudice -- that new one that sports the hideous tagline "Sometimes the last person on earth you want to be with is the only person you can't be without" -- can be any good. Could it be? I'm a pretty big fan of Austen's novels, and I'm not immune to the charms of Austen adaptations. And I even (embarrassingly) succumbed to the banal pleasures of Bridget Jones's Diary (feel free to ridicule me in the comments section below; I've heard all before, even from the girlfriend).

Austen credentials now firmly established, I've got to say the trailer of this latest version of Pride had me gagging. Obligatory Judi Dench role? Check. Stock footage of the English countryside? Check. Close-ups of a wooden British hunk glowering for no reason in particular? Check. The lovely but utterly vapid Keira Knightly as an Austen heroine? I'd sooner watch Orlando Bloom thow a pillow on his back and exclaim "a kingdom for a horse!" Look, I'm not looking for drumming raccoons and homeopathic frogs in this picture, but I just don't see any way that this movie could be good.

But today, after two weeks of belittling this movie, I scanned MetaCritic only to discover, to my astonishment, that it's one of the most acclaimed films this year. Even the estimable David Edelstein, who had mocked the ad campaign in his column, gave this film serious props, exhorting his readers to not "judge a filmmaker by the vulgarity of his distributor's marketing." Can it be?