It is amazing that the novels of an author who wrote over a century ago are still influencing people today. Jane Austen wrote of love, family relations and human behaviour and this film by director Robin Swicord (The Red Coat) uses the lens of Jane Austen’s novels to show that things have not changed much. Humans are still repressed, unhappy, uncertain, and searching for love like they have been for time immemorial.
Five friends, Sylvia (Amy Brenneman – from television’s Private Practice), Prudie (Emily Blunt – Charlie Wilson’s War, The Devil Wears Prada), Jocelyn (Maria Bello – The Cooler, The History of Violence), Sylvia’s daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace – from television’s Lost), and Bernadette (Kathy Baker – 13 Going On 30, Cold Mountain) decide to form a book club that reads only Jane Austen novels. Before their first meeting Jocelyn invites the much younger Grigg (Hugh Dancy – Ella Enchanted, Blood and Chocolate) and though having a male in their group throws the women at first he settles in. Each member chooses an Austen novel to lead the group in a discussion of and in its own way each novel speaks to the person who has chosen it. Each member of the group soon realizes that the thoughts, experiences and feelings of the characters in the novels are not far away from their own. The pages give them comfort and show them the way in their own lives.
What is great about this film is that you don’t have to know anything about Jane Austen’s novels to appreciate it. It is not pretentious or a period piece so it is not intimidating in any way and very relatable. The humour works and the emotional parts don’t feel forced.
For fans of Jane Austen you’ll enjoy the fact that each of the characters in the film is a modern version of one of Austen’s. One is a woman dealing with a failed marriage. One is a repressed woman on the verge of an affair. Another is a woman who has no clue that a man has feelings for her while she is trying to set him up with another woman. You can’t go into it expecting Jane Austen quality as she was a brilliant writer, but it is still a good film.
The cast has good chemistry and instills a good dose of humanity in each of the characters making them easy to relate to and care about. I guess you could classify this film as a ‘chick flick’, but it does have some well-written male roles as well, so don’t let that scare you off, guys!
- Cast and Crew Commentary
- Making of The Jane Austen Book Club
- The Life of Jane Austen Featurette
- Character Deconstruction Featurette
- Seven Deleted Scenes