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Friday, September 27, 2013

Austenland Movie Review

(By Debra E. Marvin who is thrilled that at least one theater in my area now has a time I'll bring my own tea cup or mug. Watching anything Austen while drinking out of styrofoam seems just so wrong!)

In 2007, Shannon Hale, a successful author of young adult fiction published Austenland: A Novel. I heard the buzz about it, just like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and although I follow multiple Austen bloggers and fan sites (and would guess there are hundreds of "Fan Fiction" or Austen-inspired novels out there) I have read very little beyond the actual works of Austen.

Earlier this year, I was happy to find this book at my library in audiobook and after a season of classics like The Great Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited, I was more than ready for something different (and fun).

Good call. Because I  laughed my butt off for a week's worth of commuting. Oh my gosh, it was a hoot and I was "keen on" the news it had been made into a movie coming out in August. And here we are...

The AUSTENLAND movie trailer worried me. Would it be too different, or too slapstick?  Lead character JANE's inability to have a decent relationship (which is blamed on her obsession with finding someone who can match her fantasy man, Mr. Darcy) drives her to Austenland.  But if you want a movie that makes you think about relationships and find ways to improve yours, then skip Austenland. It's all about fun!

THE PREMISE:  Jane is a single in her 30s with a successful career and a Darcy obsession. In the novel, she tries to hide it but a wealthy aunt bequeaths Jane a trip to Pembroke Park -an Austen immersion experience. In the movie, openly obsessed Jane is a bit crazier and books herself the vacation with the last of her savings.  "Austenland" allows female guests to live a Regency life with every detail in place, including dashing heroes offering romance (chaste, of course!) right up until the last night's ball.

Rather than list all the ways the movie and novel differ, I'll just say I enjoyed the movie and it delivered just what I was expecting. Theater-goers with much less knowledge of Austen's works can still enjoy it because it is simply a romantic comedy. Yes, a little slapstick and silly, without being blatantly off-color.

The lead characters were well cast: Keri Russell as Jane Hayes/ Miss Erstwhile, J.J. Fields as Mr. Nobly, Bret MacKenzie as Martin,  Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Charming, James Callis as Colonel Andrews and Ricky Whittle as Captain East.

The only thing that could have made this movie better was seeing it with friends.
I did.

While at the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis, this limited-release movie was showing and I got to see it with three of the Inkies. Susie Dietze and I had talked about this movie for months; we never expected it would be showing in the middle of the country at a time we could view it together.

And for more fun...  I watched it again back home with my peeps.

I expect to someday purchase this movie to add to my collection of Sunday afternoon favorites.

Does Jane find love? Well, the movie ended with some very sigh-worthy moments.

But don't stop there - the action during the credits was the icing on the cake, so don't walk out of the theater too soon.

 If someone is not creating a real Austenland, they should be...


  1. Have you seen it or do you intend to. Austenland opens in many new venues this weekend!

    I'd be happy with one day in Austenland. Shall we book our stay together?

  2. Peeps? What peeps? I thought we were your peeps. You watched it again? I feel cheated on. :(

  3. yes, I dragged out my girlfriends here at home. After our day in Regency dresses, I thought it was especially fitting.. ha ha fitting.. get it? okay that's dumb. But we had a good time.

    Laughter is good for the soul!
    I prescribe a good dose of Mamma Mia as well.

  4. Fun premise! I'm either going to have to read the book or wait for the DVD. Nearest theater showing it is 143 miles away. :(

  5. Yes, Niki. You win. We saw it in Indy - 30 mins away and it gave us a nice chance to see downtown at night - 'the big circle' with its carriage rides and sparkly lights. very nice.

    back home, I caught it in 'the city' with my friends and right now it's also at an artsy theater about 40 mins away. That's darn close compared to half the country.

    I'll see that you get to see it if I have to mail the DVD to you myself...

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  7. It's one of those movies where the audience is a big part of enjoying the movie! We fit the "Austen-geek" mold. :) Got to see it in Boston with my daughter and sister. Fun!!

    Thanks Debra-- so glad you got to enjoy it with good friends!!!

  8. Oh yes, Cheryl! very true. But still fun for the un-Geek among us. When we saw it in Indy, Susie D and I had just worn our Regency dresses the night before which made it extra fun!

    Great to see you!

  9. Definitely want to see this one, although I might wait for the DVD.

  10. I enjoyed seeing it in the theater because of the reaction of the audience. (The exact reason I hated seeing Titanic in the theater!)

  11. Seeing Austenland with you gals was an absolute highlight of my conference experience. What a blessing and a treat so see it with friends (and the night after we dressed up like Regency gals, too!). Every aspect of our time together made the movie just that much more special.

    Loved this movie, too, btw. Will buy the DVD. It's not coming to my town for a while yet--sigh. It'll probably be out on DVD by then.

  12. Quite possibly true, Niki and Susie. I looked it up. the Tentative release date is in Nov or Dec of this year. Perhaps a Christmas purchase?
    I used to think they waited 6 months to release it on DVD but all bets are off... and this one has had pretty limited release in the theater.

    When we talked about this book and movie last winter, we laughed about going to see it at the same time and then chatting about it afterward by email to compare notes! what a treat!