Winning the Scene: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Joe Wright's debut film PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (2005) is extremely impressive. Besides having the benefit of great source material, he found very inventive ways of infusing the script with cinematic ideas. Here's a simple one that I've always appreciated.
When you have a two characters in competition with each other –– especially when the conflict is verbal –– how do you show who "wins?" Wright does it with the camera.
Watch the entire clip below:
At 1:14, it cuts to Darcy's close-up (seen from over the shoulder of Elizabeth). Instead of staying on his face, Elizabeth turns into frame –– essentially taking over his shot. She got the last word in edgewise, but she also steals the focus for the remainder of the scene. The blocking beat of her leaving the dance helps too, but the way she hijacks his close-up and turns it into her's is great.
Here's another Darcy / Elizabeth scene:
Who won that one? This is trickier.
Wright sticks the camera in one spot and does a slow zoom-in for most of the scene. It pans back and forth between them in equal measure as they make their jabs, then settles on a profile two-shot for the final beat. Neither of them ends up commanding more space in the frame than the other.
It's a tie.