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The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

The Jane Austen Book Club movie poster.jpg

Karen Joy Fowler’s novel was an unexpected delight and tapped into two crucial growth industries – the mania for both Jane Austen and book clubs amongst middle class women about 10 years ago. It might have been created by a focus group, such was its precision. However it is in fact a seamlessly constructed novel, a perfect interrogation of how Austen works and how people see in her stories and characters real parallels with the messy incivility of their contemporary lives.  Six Californians (including a man…)  assemble and each finds their avatar within one of the texts to which the club is dedicated. Writer/director Robin Swicord, who did the adaptation, rather cleverly re-assigns a couple of the books to more appropriately express certain of the characters’ dilemmas. This is a hugely likable, if low-key, piece of work, impressively directed (this was Swicord’s feature debut) and with one standout performance by Emily Blunt who gets to play Prudie, the repressed Chanel-obsessed French teacher pursued by the hot student (Kevin Zegers). We also get to see one of the late Lynn Redgrave’s last feature appearances.This is an exquisitely balanced comic drama and who can argue with Kathy Baker’s mantra, ‘All Jane Austen, all the time!’? Lovely.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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