Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jane Austen Book Club

I read the book first, and hated it, so I was a little wary of seeing this movie too. The book had all kinds of details that lept out at you without warning (a rape, abuse, lesbian relationships with people you weren't aware were gay). These details made it hard to follow the lives of the 6 main characters of the book club. However, the movie, The Jane Austen Book Club totally washed over all the annoying and surprising details to create what I hoped the book was going to be. The movie starts with Jocelyn (Maria Bello) mourning the loss of her top breeding dog. Her friends decide that what she needs to get over the loss is to belong to a new book club that reads the 6 novels of Jane Austen. The concept that a monthly book club can help you get over a loss is more than a little silly, but it still works as the premise for the rest of the movie. The oft-married Bernadette (Kathy Baker) is the matriarch of the group and brings in Prudie (Emily Blunt), a disillusioned high-school french teacher who's never been to France and can't relate to her husband anymore. Jocelyn's best friend Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) and her gay daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace from Lost) also join the group. Sylvia's hot husband, Jimmy Smits, has just left her, and to cheer her up Jocelyn has invited cutie boy Grigg (Hugh Dancy - who was so cute in Ella Enchanted) to join the group. He's never read Jane Austen, but his enthusiasm for Jocelyn makes up for his lack of feminine experience. We see how the elements of each Austen work (Northanger Abby, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Emma) are revealed in the lives of our characters. There are moments of humor, lots of girl-power drama, and friendly banter about Austen's books. If you have read a few of Austen's books (or seen the movies or Masterpiece theater versions) you'll enjoy this movie too. If not, some of the subtle references to the book will go around you. Either way, I enjoyed it very much - 4 of 5 stars.


Nayana Anthony said...

I thought this movie was fantastic... still haven't read the book though.

I wish I were in a cool book club like that. :-(

Jess said...

Hi Nayana, I'd say skip the book. Just re-read any of the Austen's and you'd be better off. It was just not well put together and pretty difficult to follow. However, since you've seen the movie, you might not have the same problems I had with characters morphing into one big mass of a sad life.