Miss Austen Regrets: PBS

Austen’s novels always end with a wedding, but this biopic opens with one, where the spinster Austen is a guest. As the happy couple—her niece and her bridegroom—burst out of a picturesque country church, they pass among the gravestones. The shadow of death isn’t far in this autumnal tale as it explores the question: did the author who wrote so magically of true love regret never marrying? "This is the real world," Austen tells another niece. "The only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up!" Yet middle-aged Miss Austen still loves to dance, to flirt ("I’m still a cat when I see a mouse," she says) and, most of all, to match wits. (Newsweek)

"Miss Austen Regrets" ruminates on the author’s love life, or lack thereof — tries to rectify it, in a way, by painting her as a creature of inner passion. But while screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes (the excellent kidnapping miniseries "Five Days") has drawn some serious curlicues around the few available facts — and she has definitely done her homework — she has also managed to create plausible characters and crises. (LA Times)

Olivia Williams’ soulful and witty embodiment of Austen establishes the novelist as a compellingly independent woman for her day, and her single life seems especially poignant given the happy-ending formula she perfected in such literary fixtures as "Emma," "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility." (Variety)

As the title indicates, the tone of this late-life elegy is one of melancholy and regret, of time winding down and opportunities lost. Guiding her niece (Imogen Poots) through a sea of admirers, Aunt Jane reflects on her decision not to marry — and what that meant for the financial well-being of her mother and her beloved sister (Greta Scacchi in a lovely, understated performance). What emerges is a touching, often funny picture of a woman who made her choices and was determined to be happy with them. The film asks us to sympathize at times, but it never makes the mistake of asking us to pity her. (USA Today)