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07 September 2013

Movie Review: Austenland

So, yeah, I went to see Austenland. I really wasn't planning to. I am not a huge fan of the Shannon Hale book on which this is based (see my review here). However, my friend really wanted to go and I have a hard time saying no to a movie. So off we went in search of Austen in what I was hoping would be a version of the book without all of the things that annoyed me in the book.

Title: Austenland
Release Date: August 16, 2013 (limited release)
Rating: PG-13

Austenland is the story of Jane, a single thirty-something (Keri Russell) who is obsessed with all things Austen. The obsession goes back to a young age and has only grown over time. She has a life-size Colin Firth Darcy cutout (which I was kind of jealous of), collects teacups and teapots and has a collection of Austen memorabilia that would rival an Austen museum.  Needing a change in her life, Jane cashes in her savings for a trip to Austenland, a full immersion Jane Austen camp if you will. She expects history and romance and what she gets is something very different.

I enjoyed Austenland more than I thought I would.  While there were still some things about it that I didn't love, overall, it was a fun, if forgettable film. One of the problems I had with the book was that I really didn't like any of the characters, Jane included. However, I found that I liked them much more in the film. Jane's friend, Miss Charming (played by Jennifer Coolidge), while still sex crazed and ridiculous, is also very sweet and earnest. Brett McKenzie was suitably roguish and charming. I don't watch Flight of the Concords so I had no idea that McKenzie was so cute.  And JJ Feild played the Darcy role perfectly and was both taciturn and endearingly awkward.

I wish we could have gone a little deeper into Jane's life and the reasons for her Austen addiction. Jane's obsession with fictional characters has kept her from forming real relationships. But the story never delves beyond her obsession and we never learn why Austen has become such a crutch for her. But I think that's one of the biggest problems with the movie. It doesn't delve very deep and most of the characters are exactly who you expect them to be. Also, for a film about Austen, you don't learn very much about her or her books. You do see how boring life during Austen's time might have been. Needlework and archery can only keep you busy for so long until you start to go stir crazy. Complaints aside, I still had a good time watching Austenland. Kerri Russell is hard not to like and there are plenty of good looking men in breeches to look at. Be sure to stick it out through the credits, as there is a scene at the end that might be my favorite part of the entire movie.

Anyone else see this yet? Did you love it or hate it? Let me know in the comments below!

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