Celebrating any Austen milestone is a delicate business. They
dare not remake the crowning A&E/BBC masterpiece – the 6-hour Pride & Prejudice – yet they cannot
pass by the event without some recognition. It would seem the next best thing is,
naturally, to turn the classic into a murder mystery.
as the household staff prepares for its annual ball. Six years
into her marriage, Elizabeth Darcy (Anna Maxwell-Martin) runs her home with
kind proficiency while delighting in the joys of motherhood. Through it all, she has only fallen more in love with her husband. The young
Miss Georgiana Darcy (Eleanor Tomlinson) has grown into a beautiful young woman
who is besotted by the charms of a lawyer (James Norton) looking to someday ask
for her hand in marriage only Darcy (Matthew Rhys) is inclined to give
permission to another man vying for her hand. Further complicating the busyness
of the estate, just as the Darcy’s guests are expected to arrive, is two of its
maids returning to the house with screams that they’ve seen the ghost of a
woman rumored to bring bad luck.
young sister, Lydia (Jenna Coleman) arrives screaming that her husband,
Wickham (Matthew Goode) is dead. She claims he’s been shot which forces Darcy and his
cousin Col. Fitzwilliam (Tom Ward) to lead a search party for the one man Darcy
vowed never again would step foot on Pemberley grounds.
Around here, there has been much discussion about my admiration
of all things Austen. Whether it’s a “proper” re-make, an adaptation or
something that’s more Austen parody than classic, I’m up for it all as has been documented. This
sequel is no different. When the news of its book-to-screen transformation
first broke, I was excited for the opportunity to see what came next in
Elizabeth and Darcy’s story and even purchased the novel anticipating reading
it prior to the series (unfortunately, I only managed a few chapters before
other things beckoned me – though I can say, I felt like the writing was very
complementary to Austen’s signature). All of that anticipation fizzled out when
I saw who had been cast in primary roles.
FILM REVIEW | Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Seeing an actor tackle a villainous role – and do it well,
does nothing to endear him in an iconic role that is considered one of the greatest
literary heroes and that was my conundrum when reading Matthew landed the role of
Mr. Darcy. He played a Dickens baddie in the recent re-make of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and was sufficiently
creepy while doing so. Once a girl sees Colin Firth and
Matthew McFayden, there is uncertainly that someone else will be able to fill
the very big footsteps. Much to my surprise, Rhys pulls it off quite well. He has
the aloofness needed to play Darcy yet we see a softer side of him brought out
after six years of married life – plus his reaction to Wickham’s reappearance is
easy to accept. I’d not be honest if I didn’t confess to skepticism over Anna’s
casting also. She’s a talented actress who has won me over time and again,
however just thinking about her in the role of Lizzie seemed “off.” Aside from
some unrealistic casting for the purpose of what age these characters would be
at, these two both proves me wrong to say nothing of their breathing fresh life into iconic roles that should never seem
worn out to those of us who are costume drama aficionados.
Around these two,
supporting actors are equally marvelous – from the shrieking of Lydia (Coleman
is really quite good in the role) to the new maturity haloing Georgiana,
everyone is present and accounted for though sisters Kitty and Mary make no appearance and Jane’s is far too
brief even if it is a poignant sequence. James Norton (Grantchester) is also a supporting character, playing an ideal regency gentleman.
A&E miniseries is this BBC 3-parter putting up a more “casual” air about
it. I’m really not sure how to describe it but where Pride & Prejudice (1995) exudes elegance in everything – from the settings
to the costumes, the posture of the actors to the filming, there is no detail
left untouched even if it isn’t what you imagined, one has to recognize the
grandeur of the production. In Death
Comes to Pemberley, nothing comes off as magnificent – sure the
grounds of the estate are stunning but maybe the costuming isn’t near as
pristine or the actors don’t own the roles with the same kind of confident posture.
Nevertheless, lest you think anything else, this series is really entertaining!
mystery has to be a stroke of genius considering our love of popular British and Australian crime dramas. Aside from the fact that it’s well written, it made for the “ultimate”
fan experience, and in my book, this wound up being worth its salt. Looking
at this as a chance to see literature characters in cinema form after the curtain closes on their love
story opens doors that in my valuation endears this. Who wouldn’t enjoy the
chance to see the “insufferable” Darcy flirt with his beloved Lizzie? Or
finding out if marriage changed certain characters – you know who you are! – or
left them unchanged.
This miniseries is the best of both worlds. There is
enough elegance while having the freedom to
write its own chapters for this beloved classic all while checking in with
familiar characters. (As a bonus we get to experience Lizzie still sticking
it to Lady Catherine.) Being able to watch this as an
extension of Pride & Prejudice –
which is really all this is, rather than an adaptation of Austen’s will help
any doubters out there. Death Comes to
Pemberley is something for the fans and in this girl’s opinion, I couldn’t
have asked for better.
bed – they undress one another before they lay on the bed caressing
each other [his hand brushes up her leg] then we see them lying in bed together.
There are a few innuendoes about a man who is married and keeps a mistress, one
girl has a child out of wedlock and briefly considers suicide. There are
flashbacks to a man with bloody wounds being dragged through the forest and perhaps the occasional profanity. The
series is rated TV12.)