Media Maven: “The Jane Austen Book Club”

Media Maven: “The Jane Austen Book Club”

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The Jane Austen Book Club

Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Emily Blunt, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Hugh Darcy

Light, airy, enjoyable. Those words describe “The Jane Austen Book Club,” the film adaptation of the popular novel by Karen Joy Fowler. An ensemble cast makes this movie as comforting as snuggling up on a couch and reading your favorite book to your heart’s content.

The opening scenes featuring inevitable quirks of peril that we all have experienced sets the tone of this film — a cinematic metaphorical reservoir we have all swam in once or twice ourselves. You’re walking on the treadmill and you trip, manage to catch yourself and look around to see who at the gym saw you. Have you ever put your last dollar into the candy machine and your candy gets stuck inside? How about driving up to the ticket machine in a garage, just a smidge too far to reach the ticket and you have to get out of your car to retrieve it? Cell phone or keys ever fall into the toilet while going to the bathroom?

It is these everyday experiences that remind us we are not in control. Later when we relay our day to others they nod their heads and remember a similar experience. They commiserate with each other. That is precisely what happens to people who are in book clubs. In Jane Austen’s Book Club it is the distinctive characters that bring these truths alive.

In this particular club we meet five women and one brave man who come together to read all of Jane Austen’s books. Once a month each member is to host a meeting specifically to digest, dissect, develop and disagree on new and long held affinities with the words of author Jane Austen.

Kathy Baker as Bernadette, the oldest person of the club (and the one holding the record for being married six times) decides their friend Jocelyn (Maria Bello) needs a diversion after her beloved dog passes away. Busy, successful wife and mother, Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) agrees to make time for the club and invites her lesbian daughter (Maggie Grace) to join the group. Two spots are left to fill. The newcomers to the group are Prudy (Emily Blunt) and Grigg (Hugh Darcy).

As any hardcore reader will refuse a request from a nonreader to reveal the ending or the plot or the names of the two lovers … I, too, am refusing to reveal any of the specifics about these characters. I wouldn’t want to betray the pleasure in you finding out for yourself. Either way — reading the novel or watching the film of “The Jane Austen Book Club” is a treat for the eyes.


Rating: Five Chic Stars

Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasé, an enigma.