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Sunday, September 27

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your piano forte sound? A comic character, if ever there was one, Miss Mary Bennet is the most pendantic and least smart and accomplished of the Bennet sisters, though she strives to be the most talented and interesting one. Plain, and with a mind as blunt as a dull knife, Mary's aphorisms are famous for their lack of originality and wit. Take, for example, her pronouncement to Elizabeth after Lydia runs away with Wickham: "Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable - that one false step involves her in endless ruin - that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful, - and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex." How her family could put up with such tripe, I do not know. This week I ask you: which actress in a recent film portrayed this character best?
Best Mary Bennet

Lucy Briers, Pride and Prejudice 1995

Lucy has had a steady career in film and theatre since her turn as Miss Mary Bennet. She had the luxury of playing the character in the most beloved and longest adaptation of P&P, which gave her ample opportunities to utter Mary's banal sentiments. Both Lucy's parents were actors, and she came by her thespian skills naturally."You are brought up with a certain amount of success around you and so have high expectations," she said in an interview. "If you don't live up to these there are moments when you think: ‘I am not as good as my father.’ I have worked through those feelings and decided that it is all right — I can be an actress in my own right." (Image from Austenprose)

Talulah Riley, Pride and Prejudice 2005

This film was too short to fully capitalize on the inane character of Mary who, as played by young Talulah Riley, is insipid and sweet. Talulah began her career shortly before shooting began on this film. Her latest project is St. Trinians: 2, in which she acts with other Jane Austen actors, Colin Firth and Gemma Arterton. The film also stars Rupert Everett. Engaged to be married to a businessman, Riley splits her time between homes in L.A. and London.

Ruby Bental, Lost in Austen, 2008

A quirky Mary Bennet with a nice personality, Ruby gave the character a twee image. To quote Laurel Ann's words about Ruby in an earlier post: "Born in London in 1988, Ruby has solid theatrical roots - she is the daughter of actress Janine Duvitski (Vanity Fair 1999 & Little Dorrit 2008) and actor Paul Bentall (Vanity Fair 2004 and Silent Witness 2007). If you are lucky enough to live on the other side of the pond, you can catch her as Minnie the hopeless housemaid in the second season of BBC One’s production of Lark Rise to Candleford, which stars Julia Sawalha (Pride and Prejudice 1995)." free polls
Best Mary Bennet
Lucy Briers, 1995 Talulah Riley, 2005 Ruby Bental, 2008


Charleybrown said...

I have to go with Lucy! She defined the role for me with her abundance of scornful looks! I thought Ruby suited the role as well but it seems that only the '95 series had the time to develop the character.

The Editrix said...

I voted Talulah, but IMHO the best Mary Bennet was the one in the 1980 BBC version. (I suppose that version isn't recent enough to be in this poll, though. . . )

nigel said...

Who would George Whickam choose?

ChaChaneen said...

Ha ha. Nigel, your funny. I chose Lucy but I also like the BBC 80's version too!

Nonna Beach said...

Lucy !