Monday, October 20, 2008

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

I’m a Jane Austen fan, although I admit, I enjoy the movies more than I do the books. I think that still counts, doesn’t it? When I heard a movie had been made about a book club devoted only to the works of Jane Austen, I was intrigued. When I started hearing movie reviews both of a favorable and unfavorable nature, I was even more intrigued. I decided to see the film for myself and create my own opinion. And because I’m very opinionated, that’s exactly what I did.

We begin the movie with four women who are good friends. There’s Bernadette, kind of the mother hen of the group, married six times and looking for number seven. Jocelyn has never been in a close romantic relationship and doesn’t think such things really exist. Sylvia believes herself to be happily married, until her husband drops the bomb—he’s seeing a woman at work and he wants a divorce. Their daughter, Allegra, is a free spirit who is still trying to find her wings.

When Sylvia’s friends learn of her divorce, they decide to call upon one of their common bonds and start a Jane Austen book club to take her mind off the direction her life has taken. By chance, Bernadette meets Prudie, a self-absorbed high school French teacher, and invites her to join. Jocelyn meets Grigg, a young man who enjoys science fiction and has never read Jane Austen, but is willing to give it a try. These six come together and use the lessons in the novels to help them overcome problems in their own lives, all the while using the lens of each other’s perceptions to help see themselves more clearly.

That said, it should have been a very good movie.

However, there were other elements in the film that kept me from enjoying it fully. Allegra is lesbian, and while we don’t see any complete bed scenes between her and her partners, there was just enough to make me uncomfortable. Prudie is strongly tempted to have an affair with one of her students, although, to her credit, she walks away and recommits to making her marriage stronger.

Do I recommend this film? If you own a ClearPlay, or if you have a friend who’s already seen it and will hold the remote to blip you through the questionable scenes, then yes, I would recommend it. The parts I enjoyed, I really enjoyed. The parts I didn’t enjoy, I can’t recommend. And there you have it.

This film was rated PG-13.

Join me back here on Friday as we continue our love fest with old classic movies.

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Jennifer said...

I felt the same way about the movie. I had thought if I really loved it, I would want to read the book, but I didn't really love it. I did like that Prudie went back to her husband. And I thought the whole idea of the movie and a lot of the storyline was great. But I came away disappointed that the author had such a great idea but chose to sour it with some of the elements you described.

Rebecca Talley said...

I don't know why they have to add things and wreck an otherwise good movie.

Heather B. Moore said...

Ditto on all counts!

Anna said...

I am the same way Tristi. In my group of close friends, almost all of us are into Jane Austen books/movies.

Some of my friends have actually read the books all the way through. I tend to be the one that says "I haven't read it, but I saw the movie."

I read the end of Emma, because I wanted to see if the book ending went further than the movie ending. I did eventually start from the beginning, but haven't finished.

I love classics, but for me, it is easier to see a movie of it, and then I can better understand what I'm reading. It's the British and the era that was always hard for me to understand. But now that I've watch a LOT of movies made from classics, I feel like I better understand the what I'm reading if I start reading a classic first.

Two movies I would recommend to you if you really enjoy these types of movies are "North and South" and "Wives and Daughters". They are by Elizabeth Gaskell. I really enjoy the BBC movies of these two books. I bought "North and South" and started reading it. It is a little different from the movie, and I have to admit, I like the movie better.

Pink Ink said...

Too bad for those elements. Otherwise, sounds like a fun premise.

I love old movies, old books. I sometimes feel that I was born in the wrong time period.

Amanda said...

I saw the movie in January and thought it was okay, later read the book and loved it. I'm not offended by the sorts of things you mentioned, though. They don't bother me.

I thought the book was intriguing because each section corresponded to a book, and there was so much classic-lit underplay that it was marvelous. I usually don't like modern books, but I loved this one and even bought myself a copy. I wouldnt' buy the movie though - it was nowhere near as interesting as the book.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I, too, was so excited about this movie - until I actually saw it. I was so very disappointed with the infidelity & same-sex relationship issues. I thought it was sad that they turned something that could have been so fun, into something not so wonderful. Sigh.

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