The Jane Austen Book ClubOctober 5, 2007
Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships — both old and new — begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.
Release Year: 2007
Rating: 6.9/10 (10,865 voted)
Critic's Score: 61/100
Stars: Kathy Baker, Hugh Dancy, Amy Brenneman
Explores Austen's adage that general incivility is at love's essence. Sylvia's husband dumps her for another woman, so Bernadette and Jocelyn organize a book club to distract her. They recruit Sylvia's daughter Allegra; Prudie, a young teacher whose marriage may be on the rocks; and Grigg, a sci-fi fan who joins out of attraction to Jocelyn. The six read and discuss one Austen novel per month. Jocelyn tries to interest Grigg in Sylvia; Allegra falls in love with a woman she meets skydiving; Prudie contemplates an affair with a student; Sylvia's ex keeps popping up. In the discussions, characters reveal themselves in their comments. By the end, are truths universally acknowledged?
Writers: Robin Swicord, Karen Joy Fowler
Girl with Dog Collar
You don't have to know the books to be in the club.
Sony Pictures [United States] |
Release Date: 5 October 2007
Filming Locations: Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA
Opening Weekend: £50,052
(18 November 2007)
(16 December 2007)
Did You Know?
Each cast member was required to read the said book they had to discuss in the picture.
In the scene after the first meeting at Starbucks, Prudie is on the far right. When Grigg explains where he lives, Prudie is closer to the group and her face obscured. When Grigg leaves and it goes back to the group, Prudie is on the far right again.
Women never go for the nice guys.
Please, men say that, but when you get to know some of these men who complain the most, you find out they're not as nice as they think they are.
One half the world does not understand the pleasures of the other….
Let's get one thing out of the way, first. This IS largely a
chick-flick, although many men who go to see it are likely to get
caught up in at least one of the subplots. The litmus test is Love,
Actually–if you enjoyed that movie, and are a man, I imagine you'll
like this one as well. There are several attractive females, some
lesbian domestic affection scenes handled with remarkable
matter-of-factness, and the film (and novel) handles the male
characters gently and with love.
But it is a movie that with primary appeal to two groups–chicks and
Jane Austen devotees, including the male ones. Are there enough of
these to make a movie a success? Yes, there are.
Jane Austen's work stays current because she wrote about timeless
themes–how do you choose the best person to marry? Is love enough, or
even required for lifelong contentment? How do you deal with difficult
or embarrassing family members? How best to handle a family crisis? How
do you learn to tell true friends and quality persons from those who
are perhaps flashy and amusing, but will end up betraying your
friendship and trust or, heaven forfend, tempting you to abandon your
own principles? Whether you live in the age of Blackberries and Hybrid
SUV's, or the age of sealing wax and barouches, every person comes
smack up against many or most of these vexing problems throughout their
The conceit of this movie and the book it is based upon is that a
shared love and appreciation of the works of Jane Austen can provide
the currency through the exchange of which modern women (and a few
selected men) can confront, share, and come to better understand their
personal challenges and in the process, form bonds of friendship or
even romance. The strength of this movie is that even if you have a
tough time with that conceit, you will still enjoy the humor of it, and
the strong performances. It's pleasant to watch, like curling up with a
favorite book and a frothy cup of chocolate. It is true to Janeno
explosions, the villains aren't completely evil, the primary problems
of the characters stem from incomplete or willfully-faulty
understanding of themselves and those around them, there is no
melodrama or Gothic touches except of the parody sort, and the lone
death happens off screen.
I have this weird little theory about why P&P is the MOST beloved of
all of Austen's books. Sure, Darcy is a smoldering hunk of
tightly-controlled passion and Lizzie is as spirited and intelligent a
heroine as ever nanced through a foot of mud to get to the bedside of
an ailing sister, but that's not it.
In all the other Austen pairings, you had a sense that they were
pairings which would truly happen in real life because deep down we
know nothing has really changed from Austen's day–women's beauty and
youth and social standing is factored into a certain equation which
determines how handsome, wealthy, charming, accomplished, or respected
a man she is able to aspire to. In no case, other than P&P, does this
basic equation get violated. Lady Catherine De Bourg had it right. A
shocking match, indeed! The Lizzie/Darcy romance, therefore, is the
lone Cinderella story, and don't give me Edmund and Fanny, as Edmund
was a younger son most in need of a virtuous wife who wouldn't ever
embarrass him and was never laid out as a man of wildly attractive
appearance while virtuous Fanny's looks were improved enough to attract
the flirtatious Henry Crawford.
So, we women, all of us, are madly in love with P&P precisely because
it is the ultimate fantasy of this amazing guy who will love us JUST
FOR OUR QUICK WIT, GOOD HEART, and FINE EYES. There are no Mr. Darcy's,
just like there are no characters of the sort commonly played by John
Cusack, so get over it, already. There is possibly a Mr. Rochester, but
remember, he had a crazy wife locked in the attic, a creepy
housekeeper, an insipid ward, a bit of a sarcastic streak, and was once
played on screen by a pudgy Orson Wells. In other words, a lot of
baggage. And he still wasn't able to be brought up to scratch by Plain
Jane Eyre until his fine big house had been burned down, his eyes put
out, and his arm messed up. Now THAT is reality.
It is true in real life that single dog breeders can, and do, meet nice
men and fall in love and maybe even get married. It is also true that
nice, handsome, heterosexual men join book clubs*.
But this movie serves up impossibly cute Hugh Dancy in the role of an
implausibly unattached, adorably geeky Grigg Harris who loves reading,
older women, and can dance gracefully despite being too clumsy to
artfully sip a cocktail. The statistical probability of such an
attractive and unspoiled man (one who admits he is willing to be
"directed") like this joining your book club and then actually wanting
to develop a romantic relationship with an unattached woman older than
himself is approximately the same as seeing one of the Dragonriders of
Pern barnstorming over an Iowa cornfield.
In the RL JABC, Grigg would be gay and Allegra would be straight and
Bernadette would be queuing up for the Early Bird Special at Cracker
Barrel. And your cheating ex-spouse, Jimmy Smits, ain't never coming
back, and if he did, it would be after a series of weepy drunken whiny
pathetic phone calls at 3am. There will be no "letter". This movie is a
little bit cruel to imply otherwise.
But that's OK. The world would be a very unkind place without at least
the notion of dragons and rocketships, Darcys and Griggs. And that is
why we loved it.