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Bride & Prejudice

Posted by martinteller on January 3, 2016

Not really in the mood to structure a proper review, so I’m just gonna riff on this one.

Martin Henderson is a terrible Mr. Darcy. This guy has absolutely zero going on besides a somewhat pretty face. He’s bringing nothing to the table. Carrie — a diehard “Pride & Prejudice” fan — says Mr. Darcy is supposed to be brooding. Henderson is merely pouty.

Some of the faults of the film are faults in the source material… Lizzie/Lalita always believes the last thing to hit her ears, and she’s also too virtuous. Certain characters are too broad. But I feel director Gurinder Chadha has to take the blame for some of the clichés, and the numerous straw man arguments in the film. I appreciate the idea of criticizing superficial cultural tourism, but it’s done so bluntly here that there’s no nuance to it. No one of any tact or intelligence would actually say “I don’t need to go to India because we have yoga.”

The film is both a celebration and a sendup of Bollywood, which can go both ways. If you take the Lalita/Darcy romantic montage at face value, it’s painfully ridiculous. If you view it as camp, it’s enjoyable. The colorful dances make for some of the film’s best moments… but they also feel like standard Bollywood dance moves cobbled together, without a character of their own. The songs are fun, but not especially memorable.

The humor is not as bad as Bollywood movies often are. It’s rarely laugh-out-loud funny, but(I quite liked the line about screwing in a light bulb with one hand while petting a dog with the other, and none of the jokes/gags are terrible. The worst offender is Nitin Ganatra, whose broad performance as Kohli is pretty hard to stomach at times.

The attempts to modernize the story mostly work. Arranged marriages are not entirely out of vogue in India, so an Indian setting makes a lot of sense for this tale.

Man, it really needs a better Darcy though. I just keep coming back to how lame Henderson is. Aishwarya Rai is a good enough actress to sell her part, but she can’t make Henderson seem appealing. Even in the movie’s otherwise fun blooper reel, he comes off like a dud. The film has some enjoyable elements, but they’re hampered by Henderson, cliché, and a dearth of subtlety. Rating: Fair (60)


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