Rated PG-13 Drama
I went to this movie not quite knowing what to expect, all I knew was it had a 68% rating and it was about a book club. I was I would say it is one of those movies that has its funny moments and this one of those light hearted movies that are easy to watch. This is not meant as a back handed compliment, the movie is very enjoyable.
And one does not need to be familiar with Jane Austen to be able to “get” this movie, although knowing some of the details about characters like Mr. Darcy would surely help. I have read four of the six Austen books but that was years ago, and other than “Pride and Prejudice” I don’t remember much about the others. However this did not prevent me from enjoying the movie.
Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) is soon to be divorced by Daniel (Jimmy Smits), and has no idea that something is wrong with her daughter. Sylvia's lesbian daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace), appears to be in love with her friend and all seems well there. Prudie's mother (Lynn Redgrave), an ex-hippie dominates her life and casts her shadow across it even when she is not there.
The sole male member of the club is Grigg (Hugh Dancy), who appears to have made his money in software and has never read Austen but has a thing for science fiction. Jocelyn attempts to pair off Sylvia with him. What Jocelyn does not see is that Grigg has a thing for her instead. In this respect Jocelyn does seem like an Austen heroine in that she is blind to true love that is staring her right in the eyes.
The members meet at each others homes and these moments are inter-cut with scenes of them reading the books. While these may not seem much to viewers, I mean how else do you convey to the viewer that the characters are enjoying reading the book? But there lies the charm of the movie. All the meetings coincide with emotional upheavals in the lives of the characters, Daniel realizes how much he loves Sylvia, Allegra breaks up with her lover, Jocelyn starts to realize what she feels for Grigg and Prudie stands at a crossroad (figuratively and literally) as she is about to make one of the most significant decisions of her life.
What I loved about the movie was how in many ways the romance, emotional lives of the characters paralleled those of Austen’s characters. Also loved how the characters would obliquely refer to those events while talking about that particular Austen book either to buttress or rebut a point. We watch as these characters evolve over the course of the books and I for one was very curious to find out how it ended.
Some might refer to this movie as a chick flick. I kind of don’t like using that term for it implies that there is nothing of substance in the movie for men, and I strongly disagree. The movie is akin to curling up to read a comfortable book and the lessons about life and love from Austen’s books are timeless as can be attested to by how popular they continue to be.