Well, this is going to be tough sell to this crowd. Let me first state that I don't like Jane Austen novels or movies AT ALL. They don't do it for me and I find them quite forced. I saw the trailer for this one and was still not convinced but the cast seemed to strong, i just had to go.
It's hilarious and a bunch of quick fun. It's a slow build to the laughter, however. You know how Tarantino takes his time to build up the suspense until you can no longer bear it? This one really takes it time to get funny, but when it does... a real treat. Tom Bennett steals every scene he's in as Sir James Martin, think of Michael Scott if he were a Lord. "That prophet that went up that mountain and came back with 12 commandments..."
This will get Oscar recognition I'm sure but if there's one scene that really sells how much fun and subtle the comedy is, it's James Fleet as Sir Reginald DeCourcy trying to read a letter out loud to his long-term wife, Lady DeCourcy (Jemma Redgrave) from their daughter warning that their son is besmirched with Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale). The way this letter gets read and how annoyed that his wife is that he's not reading it word-for-word.... man, i could watch that scene 12 times.
Be warned that it's not for everybody. It's like a VERY British Woody Allen movie.
I could listen to Steven Fry threaten to ship Chloe Sevigny to Connecticut all day long. That never stops being funny. What a cast. I want to see more Tom Bennett in the future. I'm sure he'll win the Golden Globe for comedic performance.
Heart rating: 5 stars (I really don't think Jane Austen is supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny)
Brain rating: 4 stars (the screenplay is probably TOO smart. If the movie makes you feel like it immediately requires a second viewing, I'm not sure that's a good thing, necessarily).