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.