Jane (Keri Russell), a lifelong 'Pride and Prejudice' fan, travels to a Jane Austen-themed English estate that guarantees period authenticity. This immersive vacation spot also promises a chaste, quasi-scripted romance with one of its actor-portrayed archetypes: a beardstrapped swashbuckler, a fey colonel (scene stealer James Callis) or the brooding, Darcy-ish Mister Nobly (JJ Feild). Disappointed by the resort’s artifice and materialism, Jane leaves these men to her fellow guests (Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King) and instead goes after a flirty stable boy (Bret McKenzie, an adorkable peach).
When filmmaker Jerusha Hess follows Austen’s lead and treats her characters with a distant, knowing smile, she hits her romcom marks and reality-versus-artifice themes with a satisfying squee. But the 'Napoleon Dynamite' cowriter-turned-director should have applied her editorial eye more consistently; Coolidge and King especially are allowed to wander into mugging far too often and for far too long. It's a truth universally acknowledged: actors 'acting badly' are rarely funny.