Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review: Austenland

Disheartened with her life, Jane (Keri Russell) buys a travel package to England, where she will become a part of an Austenland experience in which the participants get to be the heroine of their own story. But soon the wacky 18th century flashback becomes a stage of confusion. What is real and what is not? Who is acting and who is in earnest?

As a conservative Austenite (I own five versions of Pride and Prejudice on DVD, but have only read 5 of the 7 Austen novels), I was excited when I saw a preview for a movie about an Austen addict! Unfortunately, this film lacked the finesse and wit one would expect from an Austentine piece. While it was at points entertaining, the majority of its humor is suggestive and crude, if not quite vulgar (the rating is PG-13, so this is to be expected). I am usually a fan of Keri Russell and was also excited to see JJ Field (BBC's Northanger Abbey) in the lineup, and both did a decent job in this film though their roles lacked depth, which could also be said of the movie as a whole. Jennifer Coolige (A Cinderella Story, Legally Blonde) was her usual hilariously clueless yet endearing self as "Elizabeth Charming", a participant in the charade who is more interested in hooking up with a guy than anything Jane Austen. Coolige supplied the bulk of the movie's laughs, but most of those laughs were accompanied by a shake of the head and the thought, "What in the world just happened?"

The film was farfetched, fluffy, occasionally touching and weirdly endearing. I'll go with 3 stars out of 5; but be warned, it's the sort of movie I could easily see many people hating. (And a caution to Austenites: don't expect anything too deep in the way of Austen, the only novel I remember being mentioned was Pride and Prejudice.)


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