Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice is one of the great novels of the English language.
Like many classic novels, it is about the trials and tribulations of finding the right person to marry. Here the obstacles are not the usual external complications (a rival, family opposition, a nefarious villain, physical separation). Rather, the woman and the man have to overcome their own misunderstandings, miscommunication, hurt feelings, pride, and prejudice.
Miss Austen's novel features lively characters, an intricate plot, and a combination of moral earnestness and humor. And the new movie version of Pride & Prejudice (rated PG) is faithful to both the letter and the spirit of Miss Austen's masterpiece.
Keira Knightley is stunning as the rapier-witted Elizabeth, and Matthew MacFadyen is suitably morose as Mr. Darcy. The movie is sumptuous to look upon, capturing well both the sights and the feel of early 19th-century England. We are immersed in a graceful culture where sexual immorality is a devastating blow to the family honor. And where a gentleman's moral character changes a woman's hostility into love.
This is no mere chick flick. Guys will like it too, if only to gaze upon the intensely beautiful Ms. Knightley. But men will especially appreciate the movie if they use it as a learning opportunity. They should ask themselves why women are nearly always Jane Austen fans. It is not a matter of sappy romance, since Miss Austen scorns it as much as anyone. Women resonate with her portrait of the strong, intelligent, and exquisitely feminine "lady." And they really resonate with a specific kind of masculine character: the forceful, honorable "gentleman" that 21st-century guys would do well to emulate.