Monday, September 16, 2013

Movie Madness Monday: Austenland

In an exciting twist, I actually have an in-theaters movie to review this week!  I went up north to Regal Arbor, where the small, independent films often hide out when they first come to Austin, to see 'Austenland'.

I love Jane Austen, and I like Keri Russell and JJ Feild (he's already been an Austen hero in 'Northanger Abbey'), so it already had more going for it than a lot of movies playing in theaters closer to me.  Plus, it made a trip to Yogurtland for frozen yogurt almost mandatory.

I would describe the movie as cute, but not fully realized.  I think there were a lot of things that could have been explored further that were left on the surface and gave the plot a slightly jarring effect.  There are some character motivations and plot developments that couldn't help but remind me of some of the wisdom Emma Thompson imparted in the DVD commentary of 'Sense & Sensibility' about the difficulties of writing a script.  I almost wanted to go into the editing room and see if I could piece this together a little differently.

For instance, they really sped through the set up of Russell's character as a rabid fan whose love of Darcy precludes any real-life romance.  I think in doing that they kind of misjudged the balance between making her a sympathetic kind of pathetic and a possibly disturbed kind of pathetic.  And allusions to her dating past range from just the general sadness of being thirty and single to the random appearance of an ex-boyfriend who is clearly at the very least emotionally abusive.  It just struck a chord too realistic for the fantasy of romantic comedy.

Once they make it to the titular Austenland, there's obviously a lot of poking fun at the immersive fantasy vacation.  Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's ridiculous.  And sometimes, I'm not sure that the filmmakers were in on the joke.  One thing that irked me as a too-picky-person: they seem to have mistaken Austen for Dickens in the use of surnames to signify personality, with platinum guests earning names like 'Charming' while poor little copper package Jane is Miss Erstwhile.  Unless I missed the hidden meaning of Bennett, last names tend to just be last names for Austen heroines.

Overall, though, it was a sweet movie.  Silly, of course, but it was a romantic comedy that I wouldn't mind seeing again on Netflix.  And I love the vignette for the closing credits, no criticism there.

For more madness of the movie variety, go to Amaryllis Musings.


  1. I am a fan of the book and was curious on how they were going to play it out. Sounds interesting and I may need to watch it now.

  2. hmmmm. I like Austen-stuff. I shall have to check this out.