Director Focus: Joe Wright an up and coming British Director

Words by Naomi Jefferys

David Lean, Noel Coward, Carol Read, Alfred Hithcock, Laurence Olivier, Mike Newell, Danny Boyle

A new director will soon be amongst this esteemed list of British directors, Joe Wright, possibly best known for his adaptation of Pride and Prejudice which was released in September of 2005. Pride and Prejudice was Wright’s debut feature film and was critically claimed and enabled him to make a name for himself.

Joe Wright had humble beginnings in his quest to breaking in to the Film Industry. Having suffered from dyslexia from a young age, he subsequently left school without any GCSEs. However, Wright was always interested in the Arts and took classes at the Anna Scher Theatre School. Next he spent a foundation year at Camberwell College of Arts; he then studied fine art and film at Central St Martins.

Clearly Wright has had humble beginnings, and has always had creative flair and energy throughout his schooling life. He began his career in television and slowly made his way up to his debut film Pride and Prejudice. This film starred Keira Knightley, Tom Hollander, Matthew McFadyen, Penelope Wilton and a very young Carey Mulligan.

In many ways, Joe Wright could be considered an Auteur; he frequently re-casts and re-uses actors in his films. For example, Keira Knightley starred in both Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, Knightley could be considered Wright’s muse. He has said in the past: “It’s like being asked why you love your wife, and it’s rather bland to say she’s talented and beautiful and bold, because it’s such a subjective thing,” Both Atonement and Pride and Prejudice achieved phenomenal critical success and cemented Wright’s standing amongst British directors.

However, like all good directors, Wright has had hits and misses. Noel Coward, who directed the British classic, Brief Encounter which received phenomenal success and is still cherished by the British public today. However, Coward’s The Astonished Heart received largely negative reviews and was not a box office hit. So evidently, even the best directors get it wrong sometimes.

The Soloist which was released in 2009 and received mixed reviews some critics stating Wright’s “uneven directing” and a lack of “narrative focus”. However, Wright is a young director and even the best directors don’t receive the correct response for a film which they’ve worked so hard on. But, that is the film business; it’s all about the timing!


What is evident about Joe Wright is that he is a hard-working director and he doesn’t let failure influence his future work. His most recent film, Hanna an action thriller received largely positive reviews and showed that Wright could stretch his creative vision to a fast paced, action filled film.

Joe Wright is a director of high standing and has demonstrated that he can pull the audience’s heart strings in films such as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice which subsequently won the British public’s respect. Wright has also shown that he can apply his talents to fast paced action films. His next film, Anna Karenina is screen adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel of the same name and stars Keira Knightley and Tom Hollander.

So Mr Wright have what you got in store for us now?

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