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Movies To Watch If You Like Pride And Prejudice

Jane Austen's beloved 1813 novel, Pride and Prejudice, has been used as the source material for several films and miniseries. But the 2005 feature film, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley, is likely the most widely known. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet (Knightley) and her sisters as they engage various potential suitors, helped along by their mother, Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), who is looking to get them all married off to wealthy husbands. Matthew Macfadyen co-stars as Elizabeth's brooding love interest, Mr. Darcy. It also features early performances from Rosamund Pike and Carey Mulligan, both of whom play Bennet sisters.

There's a lot to love about this film. The romance between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is one of the most famous courtships in literature, and Knightley and Macfadyen bring it to the screen with electrifying chemistry and palpable tension. Screenwriter Deborah Moggach's screenplay adapts the centuries-old story into something that feels fresh and modern, even as it remains a period piece. And, as it does in every great adaptation of the classic story, Austen's keen social commentary shines through, as funny as it is cutting.

If you're one of the many movie fans out there who loves 2005's Pride and Prejudice, you're in luck — there are a lot more films out there in the same vein. We're here to help you figure out where to start.

Sense and Sensibility

Much like Wright's Pride and Prejudice, Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility earned enormous praise. The 1995 film, which adapts Austen's 1811 novel of the same name, follows the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Marianne (Kate Winslet), as they are forced to move to a small cottage in Devonshire with their mother, after their father's death strains their finances. There, the two sisters meet their respective suitors. Marianne is torn between two very different men, John Willoughby (Greg Wise) and Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), while Elinor finds herself interested in an already-engaged man named Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant).

Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay, received an abundance of praise for her keen adaptation. Entertainment Weekly proclaims that it "luminously brings to life Austen's vision of the dance of the sexes," while Empire Magazine calls it a "beautifully crafted, witty" film that will draw in all viewers, even Austen skeptics.

Thompson is just as skilled in the role of Elinor as she is as screenwriter, and Winslet more than holds her own alongside Thompson in this pre-Titanic role. Checking this film out is simply the sensible thing to do.

Bridget Jones's Diary

Adapted from a book that is itself a modern retelling of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this 2001 romantic comedy from director Sharon Maguire is both worthy of the Austen association and more than good enough to stand on its own. Renée Zellweger stars as the titular Bridget Jones, a 32-year-old who, at the start of the new year, decides to change her relationship to food, dating and cigarettes and track her progress in her diary. But her attraction to her smarmy boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and her conflicted feelings toward her childhood acquaintance, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), may get in the way of her goals.

Zellweger absolutely excels as the magnetic and charming Bridget — it's no wonder she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Grant and Firth, as her two wildly different love interests, have firm grasps on their respective roles, fully rounding out Bridget's world. Of the film as a whole, Film4 declares it "a cheerfully frothy romantic comedy that benefits from sharp writing, lively performances and touching characterisation." It turns out, the themes and topics of Austen's 19th-century novel work just as well in the 21st century – Bridget Jones's Diary stands as proof.

Becoming Jane

If you're curious about the woman who penned Pride and Prejudice, you're not the only one. Becoming Jane, a 2007 romance from director Julian Jarrold, gives viewers a look into the famed writer's personal life. While the film, of course, takes some liberties with the facts, it's still a fun and compelling peek behind the curtain into what Austen's life may have resembled.

Partially based on the book Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Hunter Spence and adapted for the screen by Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams, the film stars Anne Hathaway as the young Jane Austen. At 20 years old, prior to any of her works being published, Jane is dealing with her parents' urge to marry her off to Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox), nephew of the wealthy Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith). Worried that marrying him will squash her creativity, Jane rejects Mr. Wisley. Instead, she finds herself drawn to a lawyer with a bad reputation, Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy).

While the film is filled with speculation, Becoming Jane hits its mark in illuminating the famed author as a real person with her own emotions and complexities. Premiere Magazine writes, "The reality of love's disappointments enriches the film's heroine, who never married in real life, and brings a 200-year-old figure into living focus."

Jane Eyre (2011)

Charlotte Brontë published what is often considered her magnum opus, Jane Eyre, in 1847. Much like Austen's works, Jane Eyre has been the subject of more than one adaptation over the years, from silent films beginning as early as 1910 to the first feature film version in 1934. More recently, it was adapted for the screen by Moira Buffini for director Cary Joji Fukunaga's 2011 adaptation, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. 

Jane (Wasikowska), a woman with a traumatic past, lands a job as a governess at Edward Rochester's (Fassbender) estate. Despite Rochester's frequent mood swings, the two bond and begin to fall for each other. But Rochester has a dark secret. Upon discovering it, Jane runs away from his home and their potential romance.

The 2011 movie has been labeled an ultra-faithful adaptation of the classic work, which only strengthens the film overall. It has even been deemed the best of all Jane Eyre adaptations. As Cinemaficionados details in their review, "This Jane Eyre adaptation far surpasses any of the previous film versions by benefiting from a master execution by director Cary Fukunaga." Fukunaga's direction is aided by the stars' alluring, stormy, and irresistible performances. This film isn't just one Austen fans should check out — it's recommended for all cinephiles.

Emma. (2020)

Austen's 1815 novel Emma has seen its fair share of adaptations on both the big and small screen. The most recent adaptation came out in 2020, with Queen's Gambit breakout star Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, it was adapted for the screen by Eleanor Catton.

The film follows Emma Woodhouse, a prideful and smart young woman of wealth with an affinity for matchmaking. Through the course of several romantic pairings (and frequent misunderstandings), Emma eventually comes around to finding love for herself. Though Taylor-Joy is magnificent, the supporting cast, made up of Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Bill Nighy, and Josh O'Connor, more than keeps up with her.

Though Emma Woodhouse has been brought to life by many actresses before her, Taylor-Joy manages to find her own specific and compelling version of the heroine, and leads the film with skill and charisma. In their review, ReelViews brings attention to how the film benefits from being the recent product of an often-adapted work: "The movie is handsomely mounted and consistently engaging. Yes, the story is familiar but part of the charm is seeing how key scenes have been re-envisioned by the filmmakers." Handsome indeed: Autumn de Wilde's vision is whimsical, colorful, and mesmerizing.

Mansfield Park

Another Austen novel, another string of adaptations — yet there's only been one feature film made out of Austen's 1814 novel, Mansfield Park. The 1999 film, written and directed by Patricia Rozema, stars Frances O'Connor as heroine Fanny Price. Coming from a poor background, Fanny is sent to live with her uncle's family so she can have a proper upbringing. In her new home, she finds herself treated poorly by her extended family — except for her cousin and eventual love interest (in a time when cousins frequently married), Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller). The social dynamics become more complicated, however, with the arrival of siblings Mary (Embeth Davidtz) and Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola), the latter of whom soon develops feelings for Fanny.

While it's less well-known than other Austen adaptations, Mansfield Park still has the charm and wit that Austen fans are so drawn to. This film takes more liberties with its source material than other adaptations, but all to its own benefit. Newsweek writes, "Rozema's handling of the entangled amours and social gamesmanship at Mansfield Park is delightful ... It's impure Austen, but potent moviemaking." As charming as it is thought provoking, Mansfield Park is a hidden gem for Austen lovers.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

2009 saw the publication of Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a mash-up of the classic work and contemporary zombie fiction. The book was adapted into a 2016 film of the same name, written and directed by Burr Steers.

Set in a fictitious 19th century, in which a plague has taken over the English countryside, the film still stars Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) — though this version is skilled in martial arts and weaponry. Elizabeth finds herself teaming up with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), who is just as handsome and just as arrogant as he is in Austen's original novel. The two work together to combat the worsening zombie takeover.

As a bizarre parody, this film is a stark departure from typical Austen adaptations. It holds nothing back on its quest to make a humorous, entertaining, and self-aware version of the classic tale. The Australian gives it some of the highest praise it could get: "We will never know for sure but chances are Jane Austen would have approved of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."

Anna Karenina (2012)

Part of what makes 2005's Pride and Prejudice work so well is Keira Knightley in the leading role. She excels in period pieces, and a prime example of this — other than Pride and Prejudice, of course — is 2012's Anna Karenina, in which she plays the titular role. Both films are also directed by Joe Wright, at the height of his powers.

Set in Russia in 1874, this tragic tale, based on the 1877 novel by Leo Tolstoy, centers around Anna, the wife of imperial minister Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). Bound to her unfaithful, much older husband, Anna is unhappy in her marriage. She soon begins an affair with a cavalry officer, Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), which sparks a scandal in her social sphere.

Just as she does in the role of Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley brings out all of Anna's nuances. This makes her all the more compelling — and her demise all the more heartbreaking. On Knightley's performance, Maclean's Magazine writes, "A radiant Keira Knightley brings more depth to Tolstoy's heroine than you would ever expect." Furthermore, Wright manages to match the novel's epic scope. Behind the Lens calls its one of the best Tolstoy adaptations out there, labeling it with several coveted adjectives: "Enthralling, moving, exhilarating."

Clueless

In 1995, Austen's Emma was transported to a modern Beverly Hills high school by writer-director Amy Heckerling. Clueless has become one of the most famous Austen adaptations ever, and a classic in its own right. Heckerling reimagines the character of Emma as Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), a glamorous and popular teen with a penchant for matchmaking. After giving new girl Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover with the intention of finding her a match, Cher faces a reality check when Tai starts to become more popular than she is. Plenty of social misunderstandings ensue, including Cher thinking Tai is interested in her former stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd), while Cher herself falls for him.

The film could pretty much swim in its own praise. The Cincinnati Enquirer sums up its successes nicely: "Writer-director Amy Heckerling has pulled off an amazing sleight-of-hand by turning a story full of vacuous, overindulged California teenagers into a light-hearted comedy of manners." Each cast member shines, their performances driven by the wit and insight of Heckerling's writing and direction, making this undeniably one of the most satisfying adaptations of an Austen story.

Austenland

This list wouldn't be complete without 2013's Austenland, a film literally about Austen obsession. Protagonist Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) is obsessed with all things Jane Austen, but is particularly drawn to Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries. After pulling together all the money she can, Jane books a trip to Austenland, a Jane Austen-themed resort where guests act out their fantasies, complete with pseudonyms and period costumes ... as well as romantic scenarios acted out with the male actors employed by the resort. Naturally, things get complicated and the emotions involved become very much real.

While the film received mixed reviews, it bears different significance for fans of Austen, who can relate to getting swept up in all-things-Darcy fandom. The film fully embraces its silly nature, making for a fun and engaging watch. Plus, Russell's performance is delightful, endearing, and entirely familiar to anyone who might also be considered an overly enthusiastic Austen lover.

NPR deems it "exactly the sort of thing to watch when you want to feel better about your life." With Austen's strong belief in the happy ending, it's likely she'd approve of the light-hearted, feel-good Austenland.