Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Movie Review: The Jane Austen Book Club

I wasn't really expecting much from The Jane Austen Book Club. And by that I mean I didn't really have any expectations, good or bad. I went into it without having read the book and only knowing two of the zillion person cast. One was Emily Blunt, because I remember her from the poster. The other was Marc Blucas, because I have a long-standing game with a friend in which we call each other immediately when we spot him in a movie or show since our friendship developed from a mutual crush back in his days as Riley Finn on Buffy. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised with this movie of which I had no expectations.

The story is this: two women—Jocelyn (Maria Bello) and Bernadette (Kathy Baker)—decide to form a book club centered around Jane Austen to distract their friend Sylvia (Amy Brennemen) whose husband has just left her. They recruit Sylvia's daughter, Allegra (Maggie Grace), and two outsiders: Prudie (Emily Blunt), a high school French teacher that feels trapped in her marriage, and Grigg (Hugh Dancy), the only male of the group and an Austen virgin. They decide to read each of Austen's six novels and each member has to lead discussion on one specific title. Working through the novels, they begin to see how their own lives resemble a modern-day Jane Austen novel as they grapple with their own relationships or their lack thereof. 

The ensemble cast really worked in this movie. The dialogue seemed a little weak at first, but then it got into a flow and the characters had a chance to shine, both together and individually. That was the great thing about it—I knew them as a group and I knew them as individuals, because the script spent a little bit of time developing each character's own story. And it was just enough time, not too much that it took away from the group dynamic and not too little that these scenes focusing on one character seemed choppy and unnecessary. 

I really enjoyed this movie. I wish I knew Austen's works well enough to recognize which of the characters in the movie represented which of her characters, but that's a project for another time.


nomadreader said...

I really liked this movie too! I also went in with low expectations, but it's one I've added to my dvd collection and watch again periodically. As I read more Austen, I find myself enjoying it even more!

Kathleen said...

I loved this movie but wished I had read the book first!

Anonymous said...

I read the book, but somehow missed the fact that it became a movie. It was an enjoyable (although kinda forgetable) book...I can see how it would translate well into a movie.

Anonymous said...

With no offense, I never liked the work of Austen. I dont know what people like in Pride and Prejudice. She is too plain and dramatic....