My trip through my film collection continues alphabetically with Austenland. A 2013 romance comedy starring Keri Russel and Jj Field.
I’ve never read any of Jane Austen books, and have never seen any of the varying adaptions, with the exception of Bridget Jones’ diary, if that counts. Maybe if I had I would have got a bar more out of this film, which seems squarely aimed at Austen obsessive’s….
The film focuses on Russell’s Jane, a 30 something New Yorker who is obsessed with Austen, Pride and Prejudice, and Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy. When she hears of Austenland, a Austen themed ‘life experience’ in England, promising the experience of an Austen novel, romance, ball et Al, she jets off.
The story is pretty simple and follows standard rom-com fare, with several predictable twists and turns, before getting to the happy ending. The twists were pretty well telegraphed early on, and it was hard not to see them coming. Despite this, the ending was surprisingly heart warming, but is still not enough to redeem the rest of the film.
Most of the jokes meant little to me, not knowing anything about Austen, but they may work for others. The physical comedy was slightly better, but there were no real laugh out loud funny moments. That said, Jennifer Coolige (‘Stiffler’s mom’ of American Pie) and James Callis stand out, both clearly having fun with their over the top characters, but given their comedy background that should be expected.
The cast is pretty varied in skill, Field and Russel are well cast, and both great actors, but don’t have much chemistry. The supporting cast are somewhat bettter, and will be familiar to any British viewers in that ‘Oh I really recognise him/her, who is that, this is really annoying’ kind of way – It took me a long time to recognise James Callis of Batttlestar Galactica fame. The British accents some of the cast put on are just awful, but that works in the films favour in the case of Stifflers Mom.
Austenland probably won’t appeal to you if you’re not a Austen fan, and perhaps this is why it didn’t really work, the story is both predictable and familiar, and the humour hit and miss. While the cast and ending go some way to save it from being truly awful, it is far from great. 4/10