The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club

(2008)

Six Californian singletons start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships starting to resemble her novels. With Maria Bello, Emily Blunt and Hugh Dancy.

Flicks Review

Based on the book by Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club departs from your BBC period pieces to deliver a fresh and fitting homage to one of history’s greatest novelists, Jane Austen. It’s a chick flick, though I prefer the term ‘women’s drama’.

A group of women are brought together by misfortune in romance and life, and console themselves through literature. Each character, without seeming contrived, represents a different point along the romantic spectrum and parallels a character from Austen. From the youthful Allegra, who falls madly and profoundly in love with one girl after another, to the romantically dismissive Jocelyn, who replaces the men in her life with pet dogs, and dedicates her time to arranging the romantic dealings of her nearest and dearest.

Each member of the book club is responsible for one book, bringing an inside knowledge to the text. The wild card in the pack is the sixth member of the book club, Grigg. Picked up at a bar by Jocelyn as a possible romantic interest for her recently separated friend, Sylvia, Grigg throws a giant male spanner in the works. The women thus take it upon themselves to impart the wisdom of Jane upon the unsuspecting male, who learns quickly, that there is more to Austen than fiction.

This is, of course, Austen-lite. Yet often the characters are so delightfully cynical it’s difficult to dismiss them altogether. The women are all intelligent and self-directed, while still all hopeless romantics.

Clever, amusing and romantic as they come, The Jane Austen Book Club manages to elevate itself beyond your average chick flick and will appeal to generations of women. And quite probably prompt numerous suburban book clubs to pop up across the country.


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 1 ratings, 1 reviews
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I saw this on a plane from L.A. so perhaps my recollection is skewed with tiredness but I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

The characters are varied and well acted. The story is reasonably engaging (perhaps because I too love Jane Austen) and I even learned a bit more about Austen's novels and how you could apply them to everyday life.

As long as you don't go in expecting something Oscar-worthy I you won't be disappointed.


The Press Reviews

65% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • BBC

    The constant paralleling does feel very contrived, but a decent sprinkling of insights and the sincerity of the acting keeps the story grounded. This film won't endure through the ages, but it can at least offer die hard Austen fans a little guilty pleasure. Full Review

  • Men are not going to be queuing excitedly for The Jane Austen Bookclub but should you be able to trick one into coming he may well find it engaging viewing. Full Review

  • Quite a nice little relationship comedy-drama, but essentially for an audience of what the French charmingly call ‘women of a certain age’. Totally not the Superbad set, then. Full Review

  • With its multiple protagonists and episodic structure, <em>The Jane Austen Book Club</em> probably lost plenty in the translation to film and, in parts, the story feels awkwardly truncated or too shallow to matter. But Swicord has a playful sense of humor and a good ear for dialogue, and the movie pleasantly accomplishes what it set out to accomplish. Full Review

  • While the script never reaches the heights of Austen's work, it's still like an Austen novel in the sense that each member of the group is, whether they're aware of it or not, looking for their perfect romantic partner. You don't need to have read Austen's work to enjoy the film, it's more about the lives of our book club members than the author, but some knowledge will add to your appreciation of the film. And don't be surprised if you find yourself reaching for your favourite Austen classic... Full Review

  • <em>The Jane Austen Book Club</em> makes the most audacious use ever of the author's work. When a make-out session in a car is abruptly interrupted, a young man grabs his amour's copy of "Persuasion" to cover up his erection. Full Review

  • One character in <em>The Jane Austen Book Club</em> describes the author's novels as chick-lit that most men would enjoy if they gave it a chance; similarly, the film is a "chick flick" guys might well grok if they could be roped in. Sure, there are no CGI or explosions, but it's hard not to become engrossed in the seriocomic relationship tangles. Full Review