- The Jane Austen Book Club (film)
name = The Jane Austen Book Club
caption = Original poster
producer = John Calley
writer = Robin Swicord
Based on the novel by
Karen Joy Fowler
Maria Bello Emily Blunt Kathy Baker Amy Brenneman Maggie Grace Hugh Dancy
cinematography = John Toon
editing = Maryann Brandon
Sony Pictures Classics
September 21, 2007 USA
runtime = 106 minutes
language = English
gross = $7,117,754 (Worldwide)
website = http://www.thejaneaustenbookclubmovie.com/
amg_id = 1:379686
imdb_id = 0866437
"The Jane Austen Book Club" is 2007 American romantic
drama filmwritten and directed by Robin Swicord. The screenplay, adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler, focuses on a book club formed specifically to discuss the six novels written by Jane Austen. As they delve into Austen's literature, the club members find themselves dealing with life experiences that parallel the themes of the books they're reading.
The book club is the brainchild of
fiftysomethingsix-time divorcéeBernadette, who latches onto the idea when she meets Prudie, a prim, married high school French teacher in her mid-20s, at a Jane Austen film festival. Her concept is to have six members discuss all of Austen's six novels, with each member hosting the group once a month. Also inducted into the club are Sylvia, a fortysomethinghousewife who recently has separated from her philandering lawyerhusband Daniel after more than two decades of marriage; Sylvia's 20-year-old lesbiandaughter Allegra; Jocelyn, a happily unmarried control freak and breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks who has been Sylvia's friend since childhood; and Grigg, a science fictionfan who's roped into the group by Jocelyn with the hope he and Sylvia will prove to be a compatible match.
As the months pass, each of the members develops characteristics similar to those of Austen's characters and reacts to events in their lives in much the same way their fictional counterparts would. Bernadette is the
matriarchfigure who longs to see everyone find happiness. Sylvia clings to her belief in steadfast love and devotion, and eventually reconciles with Daniel. Jocelyn denies her own feelings for Grigg while playing matchmaker for him and Sylvia. Prudie, encumbered with her inattentive husband Dean and a free-spirited, pot-smoking, hippiemother, a product of the 1960s counterculture, finds herself desperately trying not to succumb to her feelings for her seductive student Trey. Allegra, who tends to meet her lovers while engaging in death-defying activities, feels betrayed when she discovers her current partner, aspiring writer Corinne, has used Allegra's life as the basis for her short stories. Grigg is attracted to Jocelyn and mystified by her seeming lack of interest in him, marked by her failure to read the Ursula K. Le Guinnovels he has hoped will catch her fancy. He also serves as the comedic foil to Jocelyn and Prudie's very serious takes on the books.
In "The Book Club Deconstructed", a bonus feature on the
DVDrelease of the film, screenwriter/director Robin Swicord explains how each of the six book club members is based on a character in one of Austen's novels. Bernadette represents Mrs. Gardiner in " Pride and Prejudice", Sylvia is patterned after Fanny Price in " Mansfield Park", Jocelyn reflects the title character in "Emma", Prudie is similar to Anne Elliot in "Persuasion", Allegra is most like Marianne in " Sense and Sensibility", and Grigg represents all of Austen's misunderstood male characters.
Although the film is set in
Sacramento, it was shot in Southern California. Filming locations included Encino, Lakewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Northridge, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Van Nuys, and Westlake Village.
The soundtrack includes "New Shoes" by
Paolo Nutini, "You're All I Have" by Snow Patrol, "Save Me" by Aimee Mann, "So Sorry" by Feist, and "Getting Some Fun Out of Life" by Madeleine Peyroux.
The film premiered at the
Toronto Film Festivalbefore going into limited release in the US. It opened on 25 screens on September 21, 2007 and earned $148,549 on its opening weekend. It went into wide release on October 5, expanding to 1,232 screens and earning an additional $1,343,596 that weekend. It eventually grossed $3,575,227 in the US and $3,542,527 in foreign markets for a worldwide box office of $7,117,754 [ [http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=janeaustenbookclub.htm BoxOfficeMojo.com] ] .
Maria Bello..... Jocelyn
Emily Blunt..... Prudie
Kathy Baker..... Bernadette
Hugh Dancy..... Grigg
Amy Brenneman..... Sylvia
Maggie Grace..... Allegra
Jimmy Smits..... Daniel
Marc Blucas..... Dean
Lynn Redgrave..... Mama Sky
Kevin Zegers..... Trey
Nancy Travis..... Cat Harris
Parisa Fitz-Henley..... Corinne
Gwendoline Yeo..... Dr. Samantha Yep
On the review aggregator
Rotten Tomatoes, 69% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 86 reviews [ [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10007745-jane_austen_book_club/ RottenTomatoes.com] ] , while on Metacritic, the film has an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 27 reviews [ [http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/janeaustenbookclub Metacritic.com] ] . Stephen Holdenof the " New York Times" said the film "is such a well-acted, literate adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's 2004 best seller that your impulse is to forgive it for being the formulaic, feel-good chick flickthat it is ... Like the other movies and television projects in a Jane Austen boom that continues to gather momentum, it is an entertaining, carefully assembled piece of clockwork that imposes order on ever more complicated gender warfare." [ [http://movies.nytimes.com/2007/09/21/movies/21aust.html "New York Times", September 21, 2007] ] Roger Ebertof the " Chicago Sun-Times" called the film "a celebration of reading" and added, "oddly enough that works ... I settled down with this movie as with a comfortable book. I expected no earth-shaking revelations and got none, and everything turned out about right, in a clockwork ending that reminded me of the precision the Victorians always used to tidy up their loose ends." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070920/REVIEWS/709200302/1023 "Chicago Sun-Times", September 21, 2007] ]
Ruthe Stein of the "
San Francisco Chronicle" called the film "enjoyable if fairly predictable ... It's all a tad too neatly packaged, like a brand new set of Austen with the bindings unbroken. Still, a lively ensemble cast works hard ... Swicord's gift as a screenwriter is that her catch-up summaries avoid sounding pedantic or like CliffsNotes. She's less assured as a director. Her pacing is off, with some scenes going on longer than they need to and others whizzing by so fast you miss the nuances. Relationships aren't always as clear as they should be. Still, Austen devotees are sure to lap up the central premise that her notions of love and friendship are as relevant today as ever. And if "The Jane Austen Book Club" gets people thinking about forming a club of their own, it will have served a more admirable purpose than most movies." [ [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/21/DD9QRM3FQ.DTL "San Francisco Chronicle", September 21, 2007] ]
Carina Chocano of the "
Los Angeles Times" said it was nice to see "a movie so alive to the pleasures of reading and writing and sharing books, especially when the love feels sincere ... 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." [ [http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/chocano/cl-et-jane21sep21,0,6874362.story "Los Angeles Times", September 21, 2007] ]
Dennis Harvey of "Variety" stated, "While there are occasional forced notes ... Swicord's direction proves as accomplished as her script at handling an incident-packed story with ease, capturing humor and drama sans cheap laughs or tearjerking." [ [http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117934622.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&p=0 "Variety", September 10, 2007] ]
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Best Film in Wide Release [ [http://www.glaad.org/publications/resource_doc_detail.php?id=4173 GLAAD.org] ] but lost to "Stardust" [ [http://www.glaad.org/publications/resource_doc_detail.php?id=4350 GLAAD.org] ] .
* [http://www.thejaneaustenbookclubmovie.com/ Official website]
*imdb title|id=0866437|title=The Jane Austen Book Club
*amg movie|id=1:379686|title=The Jane Austen Book Club
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.