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Lost in Austen? More like "Austen Gets Lost."

  • May 29, 2009
  • by
Lost in Austen sounds like a fun story. Modern girl switches places with Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet and has to try to keep the world of the novel on track while dealing with her feelings for Mr. Darcy (summarized from the DVD description).

It starts out innocently and interestingly enough, with an introduction to the main character and setting up the premise. Amanda Price is a modern girl living in Hammersmith, England, who absolutely loves Pride and Prejudice. She walks into her bathroom one day to discover Elizabeth Bennet, who apparently came from her world via a door in her attic: the corresponding door (both of which normally do not open because they are stuck on solid wall) is located next to Amanda's bathtub. When Amanda steps through just to peek the door suddenly shuts, leaving the two girls in the wrong world. With no way to open the door and being discovered by one of the servants, Amanda becomes "Miss Price," Lizzie's friend from Austen-era Hammersmith who came to visit Elizabeth at the same time, coincidently, that Lizzie went to see her. The family accepts this after a few questions, and Amanda has to learn to deal with the manners and society of her temporary new home, all the while trying (and often failing) to keep from making remarks about what she knows about characters and events from her beloved book, since this story stars about the same time as the novel.

I will say now that Amanda is probably one of those characters where each viewer can have a different opinion, but I found her mostly embarassing,  cringe-worthy, and altogether unsatisfying. It's understandable, of course, that she would be confused and flustered after finding herself in Austen's novel, but she has a horrible habit of shooting off her mouth in the worst situations. She continually makes comments as things don't go according to the book ("But this should be Lydia!" "But Caroline should do that!" & etc.)

If you are the type of person who hates embarassing situations in shows, this is not for you; besides what I've already mentioned, Amanda tries alternatively to essentially play Austen and guide the characters along and to fit into her new world without apparently paying much attention the manners, as she can't seem to keep her mouth shut at all.

Watching it, you feel like you're just watching the first two hours without learning anything, since nothing really gets resolved until the very end, and even then it feels incomplete. SPOILERS start here. 

Amanda and Darcy, like Darcy and Elizabeth in the novel have a tumultuous relationship but rarely does it feel as interesting or satisfying as the novel's couple. They hate each other, they love each other, they break up, they get back together.  Amanda never tells anyone where she really comes from, even those people who would probably believe her, until the end when she finally gets back through the door and Darcy follows her. She promises Lady Catherine that she'll disappear--but then goes and [presumably] marries Darcy. I say presumably because the series ends abruptly with her embracing Darcy, leaving questions unanswered (what to do with her friends/family/situation back in her home world, for instance). SPOILERS  END.

The high point of the film was the actors and characters themselves, apart from Amanda Price. All the Bennet sisters filled their roles perfectly, although apart from Jane they weren't shown much. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet played larger roles and were so accurate it seemed that the characters from the books had come to life. In fact, they went above and beyond the book as their roles in this series gave them a bit more depth; Mrs. Bennet particularly.

Wickam was impressive--he had a decent role to play and a revelation about his character made him very likable--and Bingley and Darcy were both perfect, especially Darcy. Everyone's heard of Collin Firth from thd BBC mini-series as the perfect Darcy, but this Darcy, Elliot Cowan, could give him a run for his money.

All-in-all, the characters were excellent and and premise promising, but an annoying main character and too many loose ends end up making you wish Lost in Austen would just get lost.

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More Lost in Austen reviews
review by . November 22, 2009
       What fan of Jane Austen has not imagined him or herself getting lost in an Austen Novel?       2008 ITV Global Entertainment      Starring:   Jemima Rooper   Alex Kingston   Elliot Cowan   Hugh Bonneville   Gemma Arterton   Lindsay Duncan      Plot summary:      A thoroughly modern British girl finds a portal - through …
Quick Tip by . November 11, 2009
Brilliant adaptation of the fantasy shared by all Jane Austen Fans...Being Elizabeth Bennett!
About the reviewer

Ranked #552
I'm a student who breathes books. I also have an affinity for anything long and flow-y.      Outside of those, I'm a comics/graphic novel geek and enjoy drawing in various cartoon … more
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