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DIRECTOR: Jerusha Hess
CAST: Keri Russell, Jane Seymore, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge,
CLASSIFICATION: 10-12 PG
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
Jane Austen inspires imitation. Her early 19th century romantic novels have defied time, with adaptations ranging from Clueless (based on Emma), Bridget Jones’s Diary giving a nod to her Pride and Prejudice and a series of novels depicting her as a vampire.
Add to the list Austenland, a novel by Shannon Hale adapted for the big screen.
Keri Russell stars as Jane Hayes, a Mr Darcy fanatic who spends her savings on Austenland, an immersive holiday experience in the British countryside that promises to transform participants into Austen’s great heroines.
Upon arriving, Jane is put in the servants’ quarters and dressed in dowdy duds, while the other guests are lavished with fine gowns and ostentatious accommodation. But fancy dresses are nothing com- pared with love, and Jane finds herself with more than she bargained for, even though it’s difficult to discern how much is real and how much is scripted. She catches the eye of not only the handsome Darcyesque Mr Nobley (JJ Feild), but also Martin, a farmhand.
While Hess laboriously checks off so many familiar scenarios, the film doesn’t have much of what makes Austen transcendent.
In place of sharp witticisms, we have Jennifer Coolidge, playing rich guest Elizabeth Charming, who tries to get into the spirit by aping an English accent and yelling “tallyho”.
But there’s no spirited heroine. Jane Hayes isn’t sassy or warm; she has neither the vivaciousness of Marianne Dashwood nor the clearheaded logic of her older sister, Elinor. She’s nice, sure, but she’s also kind of a caricature. – Washington Post
If you liked Becoming Jane or Persuasion you will like this.