The Bridgerton effect is prominently on show in this Jane Austen cosplay, which brings colour-blind casting to an otherwise formulaic 19th-century society romance. Noted beauty Julia (Zawe Ashton, a satisfying, spiky mix of feathers, lace and malice) is furious when she is rejected by wealthy bachelor Mr Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) for failing to match his list of requirements for a bride. She engineers a plot, with her reluctant best friend Selina (Freida Pinto) as bait, to put the arrogant Mr Malcolm in his place.
It’s pleasant, frothy, unapologetically by-numbers stuff. Suzanne Allain’s screenplay, adapted from her own novel, will hold no surprises to anyone with even the vaguest familiarity with the genteel intrigues of Austen’s world. Emma Holly Jones’s perky direction keeps the plot trotting briskly along, but the standout element is Pam Downe’s playful costumes.