Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Jane Austen Book Club (Not A Review)
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.

This movie is about a book club that focuses on books by Jane Austen over a period of six months covering her 6 books. The club has six members and is founded by Bernadette (Kathy Baker) who has been married six times. The club is an attempt to help her friend Jocelyn (Maria Bello) who is dealing with the loss of her dog and no man in her life. The other members of the club are Prudie (Emily Blunt) a high school French teacher and her husband (Marc Blucas) with whom she seems to be growing distant. This is further complicate by a growing attraction between her and one of her high school students with whom she seems to be falling in love.

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.


Lotus Reads said...

hi, Sanj!

It amazes me that Jane Austen's books continue to appeal to every generation that comes along. There is something of an Austinmania in the air these days and it's really very exciting to see how a writer from the Regency era continues to speak to us today.

For myself, I have never been a huge Austen fan. I loved her "Pride and Prejudice" and "Emma" but I never grew overly fond of Darcy and some of the other characters as everyone else did. I was more a Emily Bronte fan...somehow all those dark gothic romances spoke more to my soul than Austen's prim and proper ones.

Still, this is a movie I would like to watch (perhaps) for the discussions about her books and the relationships that develop between members of the book club and how they parallel those of the protagonists from an Austen novel.

I think the term "chick flick" is bandied about too much these days. This certainly doesn't sound like one to me!

Thank you so much for telling me about this movie, Sanj, I will admit I have been very curious about it and now I can rest easy knowing that this is a movie I will enjoy and perhaps can place on my DVD queue when it is released as one.

Thank you so much!

AVIANA said...


i'm not much of a reader cuz of all of the reading i have to do at work...i'm sick of reading...

but i do want to read che guevara's is a huge piece but i guess it has to be for the man that he was and for the legend that he is...


Sanjay said...

Hey there my friend! How are you? I am sorry that I could not get to your comment right away.

You are right about there being a bit of an Austenmania these days. There was a fictional movie about the young Jane Austen recently, and pride and prejudice before that too!

I agree with what you say about Darcy and some of the other characters, unfortunately I am ill qualified to comment about Emily Bronte only because I have read her books so long ago. :-/ I guess a revisit is called for eh?

And the movie is worth watching indeed for the reasons you mention and there are lessons in it and the beauty of it is that you won't be brow beaten about them. It is just an easy movie to watch.

:-) you are so right about the chick flick bit.

Thank you for your comment and as always you are very welcome and what you have to say is something I very much respect and enjoy reading.

Sanjay said...

Hey Aviana.. Thank you for stopping by, I certainly understand why reading can be so taxing for you.

Che is quite an interesting character, regardless of you agreeing with his views or not. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Anonymous said...

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Milan - zzz said...

To be honest I wasn't attracted to see the movie at all (precisely because the reason you've mentioned) but now since recommendation is coming from the man I might think again (something is telling me this was quite shallow comment).

Moreover watching this movie could be good change after all (not nearly bright) documentaries I saw in last seven days at our Free Zone Film Festival.

(This reminded me, few years ago I watched Requiem for a Dream (great movie!) and after the film I heard one guy said:
"From now on, Hugh Grant ONLY!" )

Ash said...

Your "not-a-review" reviews are wonderful !!

Diana said...

I love Austen's books and did read The Jane Austen Book Club but found it completely forgettable. The movie sounds rather good, though, so I think I'll be renting it when it comes out, all thanks to your non-review.

Coffee-Drinking Woman said...

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving.

moegirl said...

I love Austen's books, but I'm always a little cautious about the film versions of her work. This movie sounds intriguing though.

Nancy Willing said...

Hey there Jay! The day's word's root is in tumultuous too, interesting.
Are you planning on attending any portion of the Eschaton 2008 in Philly in March?

Anali said...

I really want to see this. I guess at this point, I'll be renting the DVD. I've never really been into Jane Austen's books, but my mom bought me "Emma", which I plan to read. I'm glad you liked the movie. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

literary safari said...

I just watched this on the plane a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I too loved how the lives of the characters intersected with the happenings in their lives ... I didn't read the book (though I had started it) and probably won't anyway. By the way, PBS is showing adaptations of all 6 of Austen's novels in their Sundays with Jane" series which began on Jan. 13, 2008!