The year is 1813 in England. Mr. Dickley (Ta’imua) has worked up the courage to at long last propose to the lovely Miss Estrogenia (Julia Aks). A gorgeous countryside backdrop sets the scene. Down on a knee, he is immediately alerted by Miss Estrogenia’s period occurring right before his eyes. Alarmed at the sight, he whisks his unamused bride-to-be away to treat her horrendous “injury.” The short won the Audience Choice Award at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and it’s not hard to see why.

Jane Austen knockoffs and remakes are a dime a dozen at this point with very few managing to capture the brilliant, yet understated style that Austen is so beloved for. Least we forget the disastrous 2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was a prime example of how misguided such adaptations can be. Writer/director Julia Aks and Steve Pinder’s “period drama” stands in stark contrast to that and creates something that should appeal to both hardcore fans and newcomers alike.

The screenplay has an appealing snappiness, conforming to the eloquent formalities of the time without losing comedic value. From its tongue-in-cheek character names like Vagianna (Nicole Alyse Nelson), Mrs. Bitts (Marilyn Brett), and Labinia (Samantha Smart), to Mr. Dickley’s innocent yet hilarious misdiagnosis of Miss Estrogenia, the humor of Jane Austen’s Period Drama is in your face one minute and subtlety placed between the lines the next.

The wickedly talented ensemble also contributes to the story’s potency. Aks’s delightfully distressed Miss Estrogenia finds herself torn between addressing her body’s natural problems and wondering how her beloved Mr. Dickley will react to her ordeal. And on that note, Ta’imua pulls off the dashing bravado of Dickley, maintaining a cavalier attitude even when he has no idea what on earth is going on around him. The previously mentioned Vagianna and Labinia are also given their moments to shine as they tend to Miss Estrogenia. It says a lot about a short when its supporting cast is as memorable as the leads. Even Dustin Ingram’s Dr. Bangley makes a stunning impression with incredibly short screen time.

What ties the short all together is its immaculate production design by Dong Lei. From the costumes (Paula Higgins and Barrett Hutchinson) to the sets, and even Luca del Puppo’s camerawork, everything feels like being transported back to 19th-century England. The opening shot alone is a thoughtful callback to period romances, once again showcasing the film’s blending of old-school and modern rom-com genres. The end-credit song “Slide Up,” performed by Bryce Charles, is just the icing on the cake.

Elegantly edgy and posh to the very end, Jane Austen’s Period Drama is an unexpected delight that is both respectful towards its source material and brave enough to push its boundaries. A must-watch!