Lost in Austen 5*

Travel to imagined time past, funnier than Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice original text, sweet, more gorgeous aristocratic manor, extravagant gardens, lush costumes than I could envision. I watch repeatedly.

Plot has same hero, rich Darcy, but Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) from present-day London is trapped on the long ago side of a secret passageway to her rural "dear friend" Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arterton, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Clash of the Titans) who has not returned from "the city" after switching places. But she must, to marry wealthy new neighbor, overly full of pride and prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy (Elliot Cown). We know (Amanda reminds Austen neophytes like myself) how the plot should go, but the real people are not adhering to their written roles. Everything goes very wrong.

Dresses are soft and long, colors pale and dreamy. Hair is wavy on men, curly on women, straight on Amanda. Mr Bingley (Tom Mison) is weak-willed, his sister Caroline (Christina Cole) sharp and cutting, his best mate wealthy aristocrat Darcy hard and cynical.

Father (Hugh Bonneville) is poor but loving, to have his daughters marry for money makes him feel like a "whore-monger", regrets his own marriage to once "very beautiful" Mother (Alex Kingston - the best actor is memorable and unrecognizable - River Song, Dr Who 2011-now Hello Sweety, ). The twittery nagging match-maker throws all at the heir to their property, curate Collins (uglified Guy Henry) with wealthy snob patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Lindsay Duncan). He sniffs his fingers, and I did not know why.

Spoilers: Collins observes his hand first "feels himself inside his pants pocket". Eldest daughter Mary accepts his proposal, looks devastated riding away from the church ceremony. Amanda knees Collins in the point of maximum pain, so I thought she was tough enough to publicly deny villain soldier Wickham's status-crushing rumor that her father is a fish-monger, until the reason came clear. She was saved from marriage herself. Darcy insults Amanda, but after he agrees to get his shirt wet in the pond, their passion turns inside out, reverses outward hate to inner love.

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