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The Jane Austen Book Club

A movie directed by Robin Swicord

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More About the Club Members than Austen...

  • Mar 22, 2008
  • by
Jane Austen's books overwhelm me with the number of characters. I have to be exposed to her stories more than once to fully feel like I get her world. "Book Club" is a movie not unlike Jane's books in that way. It's a movie that needs to be watched more than once to begin to see the inner workings within the characters.

I read several reviews before renting Book Club and decided I needed to see it for myself. I understand what the issues are with the folks who didn't care for the movie. For starters, this isn't a G-rated historical romance like Austen's beloved novels. It's set in modern day and the movie actually opens with scenes of chaos in the busyness of daily living. Ringing cellphones, automated transactions and traffic. Then it moves into a funeral scene. The characters begin to plan something to help the bereaved and suddenly there is another crisis -- a death of a marriage. The characters, a group of old and new friends, need something good to focus on.

So they choose to meet for six months and cover a different Jane Austen title each month, hoping to bring romance and genteelity back into some hurting lives.

These are the complaints I picked up in other reviews.

The sexuality aspects of the movie are moderately strong. If you are a concerned parent, by all means watch it first. The major sexual themes -- a teacher with an emotionally, borderline physically inappropriate relationship with a student, a marriage suffering from an affair, another marriage on the verge, a young lesbian with more than one partner throughout the film, a woman married six times and still looking for lucky number seven.

The second complaint about the movie seems to be the lack of Jane Austen's works in the film. Yes and no. The "book" discussions are short and there is very little actual Jane Austen prose shared with the audience. Instead you are given glimpses of each character devouring a different book each month. Interestingly the book club members' and their relationships end up looking like little slivers of Austen's characters. For example, Emma surfaces in 3-D when Jocelyn tries to fix her broken friend's life by finding the perfect man. Jocelyn doesn't need a man, of course, until he seems to be looking elsewhere. Young Allegra who gives her heart away and receives it back crushed and yet enters rapidly into another relationship not unlike Marianne and Willoughby. Or maybe Allegra and Corrine are the modern version of Mr. Wickham and Lydia Bennet.

The third issue with the negative reviews was the lack of character development and/or the miracle changes of heart. Two marriages, one with an affair, another with an emotional affair that could ruin a career as well, a woman in her forties who has never been in love, a young man in love with a woman a decade or so older, a lesbian who loves with all her heart one day and hates her lover the next.

True, these are huge issues, but this movie takes place over months as they meet to discuss the books and we are given only glimpses of time throughout that month. So what seems fast, unbelievable and overnight is not fully the case. And having been married for twenty-six years, I can completely believe that one person who begins to think differently can change the whole flavor of the marriage overnight, if the thinking truly changes. That's what crisis does, changes people. And there are plenty of crises.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. The characters were rich and interesting and I ended up caring about them. It encouraged me that both marriages seemed to flourish once they got beyond the pain and made better choices. I think "Book Club" could be a great girls night movie, or a date movie if you have realistic expectations.

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More The Jane Austen Book Club reviews
review by . March 24, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Going into `The Jane Austin Book Club,' I had my own preconceptions that the movie would become either trivial or contrived. Refreshingly, the film quickly set aside my pride and prejudices for what a movie of this kind can really do.     The plot is not simple, but its import is clear. Several disparate people living their modern lives find motivation to go to the titled book club where they meet and discuss the finer points of a chosen Austen book of the month title and are …
review by . February 13, 2008
"The Jane Austen Book Club" is a great movie. It is based on the book The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was funny, sad, dramatic and exciting all in one. It is a very well written, edited and directed movie. The movie is about a group of 6 people (1 man and 5 women) who form a book club dedicated to Jane Austen's novel. Each character then is in charge of discussing one book. The point of the movie is that each Jane Austen book depicts what is happening in …
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Kelly Klepfer ()
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Lest there be any doubts about the ongoing relevance of the novels of Jane Austen, the charmingJane Austen Book Clubwill lay them to rest--with wit, sharp insight, and a wicked chuckle or three. Directed by the talented Robin Swicord, who adapted thebook by Karen Joy Fowler(and also wrote the crackling screenplay for the 1994 version ofLittle Women), the film is a modern-day comedy of manners, with deeply felt emotions, repressed feelings, unquenched desire and embarrassing relatives--all staples of Austen works. The film centers on a group of six friends in Sacramento, Calif., who gather to distract themselves from loss (a newly dumped Sylvia, played with grace and quiet pain by Amy Brenneman), repressed disappointment (the prissy teacher Prudie, played by Emily Blunt), or a life of unrealized dreams (Jocelyn, played by Maria Bello, whose acting skills have gained great nuance, both in comedy and drama). All are devoted Austen fans, except the lone man, Grigg (Hugh Dancy, adorable andavailable, ladies), who has an ulterior motive for joining the chick-lit gang. As the months unfold, we learn about the relationships of all the members, and watch as elements of Austen's novels and characters pop up with enchanting regularity.

There's plenty of pride (Prudie), prejudice (Jocelyn), sense (Sylvia), and sensibility (Sylvia's daughter Allegra, headstrong and reckless in life and love, played by Maggie Grace)--and a fair amount of persuasion (Grigg and Sylvia's ...

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Director: Robin Swicord
DVD Release Date: February 5, 2008
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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