This weekend, I was part of a group shown a preview of the upcoming movie Austenland.
Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) is a 30 something single American woman obsessed with Jane Austen and more specifically, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries. On a whim, she spends her life savings on a Jane Austen theme park run by Mrs. Waddlesbrook (Jane Seymour), hoping to meet the perfect English gentleman. Joining her is Miss Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) and Lady Amelia Heartwright (Georgia King).
The gentleman are actors, paid to give participants the full Austen experience. Henry Nobley (JJ Feild), Martin (Bret McKenzie), Colonel Andrews (James Callis) and Captain George East (Ricky Whittle).
This movie is based on a book, which I have not read, but some of my friends have said the book is good.
As a rom-com based on Austen’s novels, it certainly appeals to the Janeite in me. Anyone who knews me to a certain degree or has read this blog knows that I am a very open and proud Janeite. But this movie creates stereotypes that are far from reality. As one of my friends put it, the first 15 minutes are extremely unrealistic. As much as I adore and appreciate the 1995 P&P miniseries, I do not have a life-size Colin Firth Mr. Darcy cutout in my home.
The bright spots in this movie are Jennifer Coolidge who has the funniest lines and JJ Feild who looks good (and I mean looks really, really good) in regency era clothes.
That being said, this movie is not good. It panders to the Janeite fandom community and to women in general, reducing what could have been a very good, very smart and very funny homage to Miss Austen into a predictable and stale rom com. The ending, even as predictable as it is, is too predictable. I’m glad I saw it before it comes to theaters, it is not worth going to the movies for.