Review: The Jane Austen Book Club


Director:Robin Swicord

Cast:Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Amy Brenneman

Running Time:106 Minutes


When friends Jocelyn (Maria Bello) and Bernadette (Kathy Baker) decide to start a book club to get Sylvia's (Amy Brenneman) mind off her recent divorce, both Sylvia and her daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace) are fortunate to join. However, they along with school teacher Prudie (Emily Blunt) and attractive Grigg (Hugh Dancy), both group acquaintances, decide to read one book a month by the beloved novelist Jane Austen. For six months the six club members meet and debate six of Austen's classics, and while none of their lives solely coincide with Austen's works, the six members do find love, wisdom, and knowledge within the novels they discuss, resulting in a classic story about art, love and friendship.

Taken from Karen Joy Fowler's novel, The Jane Austen Book Club is full of life and love and although a major chick flick, enjoyable by one and all. Maria Bello and Kathy Baker lead an all star cast that ultimately carries the film and helps the audience to overlook a dragging, sub-par script.

With a cast as large as the one in this film it is a wonder that everyone gets along. However, through the film's entirety the cast works together to not only pull off their external characters, but their relationships and inner emotions dealing with life, themselves, and those around them.

What really allows the chemistry to stick out and become noticeable is the fact that through the six club members, six different personalities are present. Jocelyn is a stern dog breeder who has never married and values her dogs more than her friends. Bernadette has been married six times and is proud of it, regretting nothing and living for life's experiences. Sylvia is the typical working wife and mom, while her daughter Allegra is a lesbian, working to discover what if feels to love and be loved. Prudie is an uptight French teacher who is unsatisfied with her current marriage, while Grigg is the sole man of the group, providing a little extra testosterone and giving the group both humor and perception from the opposite sex. With all these personalities I am shocked that all the pieces fit, but fit they did, forming a great piece of art.

The "˜scene highlight' of the film comes at the groups second meeting, when a nerve is hit in Sylvia, Prudie and Allegra battle on the theme of the novel, while Jocelyn continues to have trouble "˜hooking-up' Grigg with Sylvia. All the while Bernadette just sits and watches. The scene is intense with emotion, and it is at this point that the cast pulls together and becomes a "˜family.' Here is where the audience connects with one or all the characters and being to feel for them, wanting things to turn out for the best and wanting them to be happy. In a matter of five minutes this film captures and relates to their audience, something rarely accomplished by films these days.

In the end the film was great, could and should have been better with a quicker moving script, but nonetheless, a great film. I highly recommend it for any occasion, but would personally save it for a date night. Who knows, maybe you are living in the shoes of Emma or Mr. Knightly, two of Austen's most notable lovers.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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