Next up on the Valentine’s Marathon and the Netflix A-Z selection, we’re at J! Honestly, I and J had such limited selections especially when focused on one genre, that the choice was easy. This week, we’re going for The Jane Austen Book Club. What’s a little Valentine’s Marathon without some form of Jane Austen, right? I didn’t think the movie was almost 10 years ago but the cast looks really good and the idea of our life and romances relating to Jane Austen novels is good one since most of Jane Austen’s novels are not just romance but a social commentary also.
Let’s check it out! 🙂
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
Director: Robin Swicord
Cast: Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Hugh Dancy, Kevin Zegers, Marc Blucas
Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships — both old and new — begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.-IMDB
Its hard to dislike any movie that uses Jane Austen and her works as the foundation of their story. The Jane Austen Book Club is really the same thing. The film isn’t particularly long but to also have to highlight the six characters relationships and the parallels to Jane Austen’s stories is a challenge in itself. I think that Jane Austen Book Club might at times feel like its not taking enough time for the characters but it does a decent job for us to understand what each one is thinking. What really takes it above is that the group itself is a variety of people that reflect kind of the different values that any group would have from liking being alone to recently divorced; younger college age versus older; and finally trying to spark a marriage while resisting temptation. Everyone comes down to the question: What would Jane do?
In their turmoil and dilemmas, Jane Austen’s stories give them light and a group of friends. There are moments that might seem a little overly sentimental or even quite predictable, except the cast itself does a fantastic job of carrying each of their characters and it makes for an entertaining film. What is even better is that everyone knows a different depth of Austen novels and with one being a complete newbie, it never loses its viewers in the context (hopefully because I am recently reading Jane Austen Classics so I may be biased). As a Austen fan or simply an avid reader, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being able to relate to people who find themselves through books. That is exactly what these ladies are. Sure, its about Austen and their lives relating to the stories but it also teaches them something different in each one and to make choices for themselves.
The characters that had the most screen time definitely went to Maria Bello and Hugh Dancy who was the main characters who struggled to be together. On one hand, it was a story of Maria Bello’s character, Jocelyn being somewhat like a modern day Emma who drags a guy Grigg (played by Hugh Dancy) in hoping to match him up with a recently divorced best friend, Sylvia (played by Amy Brenneman). Except in reality, she tries to push away those feelings that she has for him. While that is central to the story, it leads us to see the other stories as well. We get Sylvia’s story as reading Austen’s actually lets her realize how to be independent as a divorced woman. On the other hand, her daughter Allegra joins and gives a different younger perspective of the story. Grigg is definitely the male voice in their analysis. Another character worth mentioning is Prudie, played by Emily Blunt, and her heavy morals on self-control. Maybe she falls into the Sense and Sensibility story as she tries to resist the seduction of a student (played by Kevin Zegers) but also wanting to rekindle her own marriage. There is a lot going on and the parallels are even harder to figure out if one story relates to an Austen novel/character or if it just blurs together eventually. They definitely all have the contrasting personalities to show has a different interpretation of a situation and how to face it. Just look at the cast though, it is amazing and they absolutely deliver great performances.
I think that is what is so good about Jane Austen Book Club. Despite the dramatic moments, there is still a level of feel-good moments. Everyone embodies a bit of Austen’s characters and without realizing it makes decision similar to those in her novels. The storyline goes from month to month division where we see the book they are reading right before they jump into the meeting itself with just a little bit of events in between to give some context. Maybe there are too many characters for its own good but it does keep a decent balance.
Overall, The Jane Austen Book Club is a fine little romantic drama-comedy. It has a widespan of characters and tries its best to keep the Austen stories and context understandable even to those who don’t know much about it. They divide the stories well enough to make us understand what (some of) the characters are going through. The cast really takes the script and makes it their own and that is definitely the highlight. While the story is a little predictable and maybe gets sentimental at other bits, there is still a feel-good factor. The reader in me approves this movie very much. 🙂
Have you seen The Jane Austen Book Club? What did you think of it?
We will be taking a little Netflix A-Z break starting next week!
Ultimate 80s Blogathon starts on Feb 15th and that will be the main focus.
However, before that, Valentine’s Marathon ends with the two Nicholas Sparks movies I haven’t reviewed yet.
Lets hope its not too cringe-worthy! 😉