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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 caddish ex, Daniel, a smooth Jimmy Smits). As the minuet of relationships and alliances unfolds over the months, the emotions are real and the leavening humor spot-on. About the only thing that doesn't ring true is seeing all these Sacramento women bundled up in shawls, blankets, thick sweaters and extra layers--even in July(!). Still, the film will engage even reluctant Austen readers (if there is such a thing). As Kathy Baker's Bernadette says gaily, "Jane Austen is the perfect antidote to life!" Elizabeth Bennett couldn't have put it better. --A.T. Hurley

Stills from The Jane Austen Book Club (click for larger image)




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CastHugh Dancy, Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Kathy Baker, Emily Blunt
DirectorRobin Swicord
Screen WriterRobin Swicord, Karen Joy Fowler
DVD Release Date:  February 5, 2008
Runtime:  106 minutes
Studio:  Sony Pictures
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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 . March 22, 2008
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 …
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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