I can see why this was so well received when it was released. There is a different pace to this film than in most Austen adaptions - I just dont think the pop editing and meta storytelling brings anything to the table beyond style. The story itself flits about then ends, the actors do their bit well enough and...not much else. I wasn't moved.
Wait, I haven't reviewed this yet? I've seen this three times! And I don't even like Stillman! Like, at all! Effortlessly funny dialogue acted on a tightrope: Beckinsale and Bennet are clearly meant to shine but the rest of the cast has a solid grasp of the comedy. It's also well designed, from what I can tell. It's mostly just damn funny.
Genuinely fun, witty and at times laugh out funny in ways I did not think a Jane Austen's story could be imagine. Lady Vernon is devilishly charming and deceitfully charming played by Kate Beckinsale who even though has not impressed me before is delightful here, whilst Tom Bennet's preposterous upper class twit Sir James is the film's true scene-stealer.
Funnier and sharper the second time around (some of the comic dialogue, and the film's overall comic tone, perfectly in keeping with Stillman's usual style but not obvious in the mid 19th century, may take more than one visit). Stillman among the few filmmakers who seems to get Austen, surely more a predecessor to Oscar Wilde than to Nicholas Sparks!