The Jane Austen Book Club (2007, American): Review

    

The Jane Austen Book club is adapted from the book by the same name by author Karen Joy Fowler. One of my favorites and I imagine many other people’s favorites is the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by Simon Langdon. The reason why seems to be, that it is one of the most faithful adaptations of the novel. In a sense it is almost like pictorially reading the novel with pitch perfect casting and locations. So all the original joys to be found in the book, whatever they maybe, is retained in the watching of the series. Although this looks like an easy thing to accomplish many movies have failed in such an endeavor.

    

This film has a rather bookish feel to it. It is like reading a Jane Austen novel, except the context now is a set of women in Sacramento, America. While retaining a feel of the 18th century world of Jane Austen, this movie also manages to keep its Americanism alive and kicking, reminding one of movies like the Steel Magnolias, Reality Bites etc with their ensemble casts.

All of Austen’s novels are essentially about women. So it is here as well. A group of women decide to form a book club to finish all of Jane Austen’s novels. Here they discuss each character and the implications, similarities that it bears in their own lives. Each book reflects the state of affairs in at least one woman’s life. Thus also mirroring the 18th century worries in a 20th century life.

It is a good movie in many different ways, the ensemble cast is super, the writing is enjoyable and the movie is very participatory. I had a distinct feeling of being a part of that book club myself along with having a feeling of attending a critical review course on Jane Austen’s novels. All very interesting. The endings for each character also mirrors the many endings that Austen herself has given her varied array of characters.

A thoroughly modern and satisfying adaptation of Jane Austen. Much more so than the needlessly angsty adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in 2005 by Joe Wright (his other movie, Atonement was far superior).

 

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