Tag Archives: Carey Mulligan

Lizzie Uzzell on Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright, 2005)


“Only the deepest love will persuade me into matrimony, which is why I shall end up an old maid.” – Elizabeth Bennett whispers to her sister in late night confidence, a line that contextualises the depth of her eventual love for Mr Darcy.

Based on the beloved Jane Austen novel, Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice released in September 2005 after over fifteen previous adaptations. Before Wright’s film, the most popular adaptation had been the 1995 miniseries produced by the BBC which was largely credited for its faithfulness to the source. Although straying more from the source material than the miniseries, the film garnered much acclaim and praise from critics and public alike – receiving four Oscar nominations and six BAFTA nominations, including one win.

Pride and Prejudice centres around the Bennet family. Mr and Mrs Bennet (Donald Sutherland and Brenda Blethyn) care for their five daughters – Jane (Rosamund Pike), Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), Lydia (Jena Malone), Kitty (Carey Mulligan) and Mary (Talulah Riley) – as they all make their way into adult society. The story specifically follows Elizabeth and her struggles with marriage expectations and prospective proposals. Elizabeth is a head-strong protagonist who cares much more for books and love than money or prospects. As Elizabeth’s four sisters grow up and find love of their own, she is forced to face her feelings for the stoic and proud Mr Darcy. Their romance buds slowly and reluctantly, growing from joint intellect and wit. Jane and Mr Bingley’s (Mr Darcy’s best friend) relationship provides a stark contrast, as their sharing of undeniable kindness and charisma creates an instant romance.

Pride and Prejudice is both visually striking and thematically rich, creating a film that’s enjoyable for its surface level qualities and emotional nature. Beautiful, scenic cinematography of the Peak District alongside complex themes of social class, gender, and moral values form the backdrop to one of the most renowned love stories of all time. Director, Joe Wright, and Cinematographer, Roman Osin, work together to use the visual medium of film to their advantage. They utilise the landscape by mirroring the emotions of the characters through terrain and weather. This is seen in the representation of relationships as well as individual characters. For Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, they use cool tones throughout the film until sunlight bursts through them when they unite at the end, meanwhile Mr Bingley and Jane are nearly always seen bathed in sunlight – reflecting the warm nature of their relationship.

Mr Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship signifies a bridge between all the conflicts hidden within Pride and Prejudice. Each of them represents a different social standing, degree of wealth and gender. As made clear by Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Mr Darcy’s aunt) in her attitude towards Elizabeth, Mr Darcy is considered to be so far above Elizabeth’s position that even the rumour of their engagement is a scandal. Lady Catherine furthers this distinction of class by attempting to use her power and wealth to deny Elizabeth marriage to Mr Darcy. This abuse of power occurs both explicitly and subtlety throughout Pride and Prejudice, underlying all the joy and love to keep the story grounded. It is these layers that, I believe, keep people returning to both Jane Austen’s books and films year after year.

“I have been so blind.” – Elizabeth Bennett


Lizzie Uzzell

Eavesdropping at the Movies: 293 – Promising Young Woman

We’re joined by returning guest Celia, on the phone from Canada, to discuss writer-director Emerald Fennell’s unusual revenge thriller, Promising Young Woman. Following the rape and – implied – suicide of her friend Nina, which goes unpunished, Carey Mulligan’s Cassie drops out of medical school, and now spends her nights feigning drunkenness, allowing men to pick her up and take her home, alarming them with her sobriety as they begin to sexually assault her. When a chance reunion with a former classmate reveals that Nina’s rapist is engaged, Cassie embarks upon a campaign of vengeance against those she considers responsible for and involved in committing and allowing her friend’s rape and its cover-up.

Celia loves it, finding that it invokes and brings to life many subtle and important observations about life for women in the patriarchy, enjoying the various forms Cassie’s revenge takes – particularly the “exercises in forced empathy”, in her words – and feeling a call to arms; José decidedly doesn’t, decrying those observations and revenges as cinematically unrealised in what is merely a filmed essay, albeit one that admirably exhibits a style, an aesthetic and a point of view. Mike bravely sits in the middle, pretending to be superior to the other two by virtue of not exhibiting an extreme response to the film. The discussion is varied and passionate – and full of spoilers. Love it or hate it, Promising Young Woman is a thought-provoking, vital film, and well worth watching.

The podcast can be listened to in the players above or on iTunes.

With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.

I made a trailer for the podcast which can be seen below:


The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, USA, 2013)

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 15.03.20

Gatsby’s lush to look at: a multitrack film with pretty images of old things shown in a new way; beautiful words that a lot of people remember from school; and syncopated sounds that evoke jazz and the twenties but also the current bling-bling life. The film is pastichy, multi-layered, textured. I love the digitized prettyness of it all; the way the pastel-y romantic images meld into one another in a syncopated flow — it’s the way one imagines a Harper Bazaar or Vanity Fair layout from the twenties would look ‘brought to life’.

Harper's Bazaar brought to life.
Harper’s Bazaar brought to life.

If the film has any depth, it lies in its surfaces; and what surfaces! – a trail of delicate art nouveau flourishes edging into but giving way to gorgeous art deco geometry. The film is set right on the cusp where one style gives way to another: everything is a treat to the eye — the advertisements for Arrow shirts in Times Square, the digitally constructed Long Island Sound, the parquet flooring, the yellow Duisenberg, the clothes, the jewelry and the most beautiful silver tea-service I’ve ever seen.

Multi-layered and multi-track
Multi-layered and multi-track

It’s a dream setting for that moment in American culture where the Edith Wharton-esque East Coast aristocracy, not too far removed from working grime themselves, are trying to keep at bay the too-fresh flash types bootlegging was bringing  into their neighbourhood, the kind wearing raked fedoras and arriving in the shiniest of fast cars — picture James Cagney smashing a grapefruit into  the world of The Age of Innocence. Gatsby evokes this clash between the newly acquired and still chaffing refinement of American ‘old money’ brutes and the natural gallantry and elegance of rich moist-eyed gangsters. The film enwraps Gatsby’s optimism, his sadness and his longing in a glamorous criminality that the film renders as sensational.

The dizzying fall from a skyscraper and onto a smiling Nick Carroway
The dizzying fall from a skyscraper and onto a smiling Nick Carroway

Gatsby is full of delights: the best star entrance any contemporary director has ever staged for a male star as of yet; the dishy first look at Daisy (Carey Mulligan); the dizzying fall of the camera from a skyscraper and right into the smiling face of Nick Carroway (Tobey Maguire) — a tour de force of joyful filmmaking; the wondrous staging of the first meeting of Gatsby and Daisy; the car accident; the shooting at the pool; our last look at Gatsby; our first sight of Amitabh Bachan; and, not least, the way the film  incorporates words and writing into striking images so that it can then romance the viewer with phrases as well as sights and sounds.

The first meeting of Gatsby and Daisy
The first meeting of Gatsby and Daisy

At the heart of the film, however, is Leonardo DiCaprio, the greatest star of his generation at his most, romantic, glamorous and best. No other male movie star has done masculine yearning as well as he does here; and no other director has pictured DiCaprio more beautifully or glamorously than Luhrmann (remember  Romeo and Juliette?). This is a great pleasure but it may be part of the problem with the film as well — the way Luhrmann gets Gatsby to look at Daisy is the way the film invites us to gaze at DiCaprio; and shouldn’t the film’s gaze be with Gatsby’s on Daisy? But let’s not quibble, it’s a swoony film. I can’t wait to see it again in 3-D.

The introduction of DiCaprio as Gatsby
The introduction of DiCaprio as Gatsby

Note on 3-D

I did go see The Great Gatsby again in 3-D and it’s the best use of it I’ve seen so far. The way it’s deployed at the very beginning,  so as to make us feel as if we’re floating into the centre of the screen and through that golden Art Deco symbol and into the world of the film, is brilliant in terms of concept and in terms of showmanship. The party scenes where all rooms opposite seem to come alive not only with music but also seem to move forward, the equivalent in theatre of breaking the ‘fourth wall, and making us feel that yes, they too can see what’s happening at the party. The way words are used so as to float or hover over the heads of the audience.


This film springs from, is surrounded by, draws inspiration from those words but, importantly, is also NOT those words, they’re just an element here. And of course the 3-D permits a staging in a kind of depth that would have made Bazin feel that movies had come a bit closer to his idea ot Total Cinema.  3-D is normally used as a stunt to offer a cheap thrill (and almost never succeeds) here the thrill aimed for is more complex and more satisfying. Luhrmann stages operatically, all those rustling leaves and billowing curtains to indicate states of mind could have come straight from Sirk. But the aim  here is to evoke male yearning and the dream world he makes reality as a setting for a love that ends up never being returned. To help show us how, as Fitzgerald writes  ,‘Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further. And one fine morning –’

And how we all ‘beat on, boats against the current, borne back carelessly into the past’.


The 3-D here makes a gorgeous film even more beautiful, a really good one almost great because it embodies, gives metaphorical shape to that green light, that girl that is almost within reach but never within grasp, always and forever tragically unobtainable.. The 3-D is absolutely integral to the aesthetics of this film, it’s in 3-D that this really good film becomes truly great.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 15.14.53José Arroyo