Bride and Prejudice
Wow, what a bunch of party poopers the critics are! (The new NY Times reviewer, Manohla Dargis, is establishing herself as someone I can count on disagreeing with.) And thanks again to Images Cinema, for having the wit to program this film. I’m not usually on board with over-the-top crowd-pleasers, but I found this sweet-natured Austen-meets-Bollywood extravaganza utterly engaging. Gurinder Chadha strives for jolly good fun, with a mild message of multicultural cross-gender acceptance, and I take away exactly that, with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. The divine Jane can take on any form of dress up, and here her Elizabeth and Jane Bennett wear the saris of a former Miss World and Miss India respectively, while Darcy seems to have stepped straight out of a Pierre Cardin advert. Implausibly all these translations work, right down to “Rory Gilmore” as Georgiana. It’s all movie madness -- silly songs, wild dancing, dizzy travelogue, clownish characters, sappy romance -- but it all works for me. Jane gives it backbone and Gurinder gives it pizzazz and color. (2004, Images, n.) *8* (MC-55, RT-66.)
Chadha vs. Nair. This was the match-up for the final slot of my upcoming survey of young directors to watch. I gave the nod to Gurinder over Mira, and comparing their latest (see review of Vanity Fair below) confirms the choice, as well as their continuing similarity. These two adaptations of classic 19th century English novels end with exactly the same shot: the swaying back end of an elephant carrying a just-married couple. But I admired the former’s what-the-hell, go-for-it assault more than the latter’s dutiful but overmatched approach. Of course, Nair’s Monsoon Wedding must have been a conscious model for Chadha’s Bride, and her elegance has so far produced more good films than the sloppy joviality of the younger woman, but Gurinder’s sheer joy in filmmaking is infectious.