At first, it is clear that the two are at odds in their outlook. In movie talk, that means they will end up being madly attracted to each other. Anyway, the relationship is not one smiled upon by their respective families. Jane's mother wishes her to marry into wealth (the family was suffering financial woes), while Lefroy's uncle will not consent to him marrying a country girl. Then there is Lady Gresham, a lonely woman who believes she is above everyone when it comes to deciding what is best for all around her. She wishes Jane to accept the pending proposal from her nephew, Mr. Wisley.
It is my understanding that the romance that is depicted is more speculation than anything else. There is a factual basis in the mention of Lefroy in a pair of letters to Jane's older sister, Cassandra (Anna Maxwell Martin), however, the details are not known. This allows screenwriters Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams room to play with what may have happened. They use elements of her novels as the seeds of the story. In a way they reverse engineer her writings to create potential inspirations from her real life. This may be pretty close, as most authors take cues from their real life for their writing. It would not be much of a stretch to assign Austen's narrative elements to pieces of her life in the search to fill in what she was like.
My conflicted feelings are too hard to ignore. I wanted to like the film, and by and large the performances are good. The failure lies in the hands of the screenwriters and on the shoulders of director Julian Jarrold. The screenplay fails to offer anything of real interest, and the direction is straightforward and just a little plain. It is a tale of unfulfilled potential.
Bottom line. A costume drama that fails to rise above the level of mediocrity. Despite the pretty images, and strong performances, I found myself fighting the oncoming of sleep for much of the runtime. If you are a fan of Austen, you will likely enjoy this much more than I. Still, it is a film that doesn't deliver on its romantic premise.