Famously, film and TV adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels used often to be guilty of staid, lazy, Sunday-afternoonish reverence. Recent efforts have waxed loud about making her ‘sexy’ or ‘modern’; this takes that tack to her best loved book, offering both appropriately youthful stars and a purportedly ‘realist’ portrayal of Regency England as gritty and grungy rather than rosily picturesque.It’s not an unintelligent attempt, with Wright (following TV acclaim with this feature debut) and writer Deborah Moggach alert to demands for naturalism: early scenes of the Bennets preparing for and attending a boisterous ball are so pacy, buzzy and giggly, you wonder whether Austen’s meticulous narrative structure’s been jettisoned. It hasn’t. Sadly, however, her brilliant sense of irony has; romantic melodrama’s played up at the expense of her razor-sharp wit, so humour is largely confined to Brenda Blethyn (broad) and Donald Sutherland (muted) as the Bennet parents and Tom Hollander, in perhaps the only turn to hit just the right note, as Mr Collins.Keira Knightley doesn’t really convey Lizzie’s strength, let alone her complexity, while Darcy’s shift from surliness to love is too sudden for Matthew MacFadyen to convince. Family and friends are too sketchy (though Judi Dench leaves her mark as Lady de Bourg), just as England conveniently comprises famed statelies (Burghley, Chatsworth) and a cliff in the Peak District that gives Keira a ‘Titanic’ shot. Meanwhile, history and Austen’s philosophical concerns are pushed into the background by further rhetorical flourishes like Darcy’s misty-meadow stride, with rising music, towards a new-day kiss. A realist Austen? Not exactly.