Jarrold (a veteran of Brit TV whose only other feature was “Kinky Boots”) and company make the most of the period settings and costumes, their very deep cast of English thesps and especially their two leads.
McAvoy deftly limns Tom’s transformation from hard-partying gadabout to earnest suitor. Hathaway, up to now known mostly as a comic actress (“The Princess Diaries,” “The Devil Wears Prada”), tones things down to portray the more modest Jane. It’s not a showy performance, inasmuch as Jane tries to heed her mother’s advice and disguise her razor-sharp intellect beneath a façade of maidenly decorum.
But Jane’s inner fire, expressed through Hathaway’s big brown eyes, bursts through loud and clear.