Tuesday, 25 February 2014

TO AUSTENLAND AND BACK TO REALITY


I have been posting about it  for a while on My Jane Austen Book Club facebook page: pictures, news, trailers, clips, interviews,  whatever I could find about it. Expectations and anticipations grew my wish to see it. Now it is time to write my review. Ready to join me to Austenland


I was really curious about this movie - though I haven't read the book so far -  so I watched it as soon as I grabbed my copy of the DVD and it was an actually funny ride through Austen-fandom-fairy-land. What do
I mean? I'm hinting at the fact that this movie is really a trip to a world Austen fans can sympathize with. Not a journey through Jane Austen's prim and proper Regency World,  but a trip into the contemporary world of a certain fandom and of a certain market which overtly exploits the devotion of certain fans.

Forgive me the repetition but it's definitely wanted. This is a movie for Austen fans about an Austen fan. It  is improbable this film might be enjoyed and understood by someone who's not suffering from at least the slightest form of "Austenesque sympathy".
Because, think about it,  can you smile at a parody if you don't know anything of its target or catch the irony of something if you don't recognize its tone?

This is why I bet many Austen fans, can sympathize with Jane Hayes and won't get offended by the prevailing comedic tone director Jerusha Hess chose for her retelling of Shannon Hale's novel, Austenland


As for myself, I liked it.  It was foolishly delicious or deliciously foolish but I did like it. Romantic and  hilarious, I couldn't ask for more from a comedy dealing with romance, with being a devoted Austen addict to the extent of making it a dangerous fixation, with being a woman looking for a Mr Darcy-like dream man in real life. Lightness and parody, beautiful locations and regency costumes, dashing flirting men in breeches who,  as romantic as Jane Haynes and me,  wouldn't give it a try? Once you've made it clear to yourself, that that is what it's all about, you can relax, focus on the funny details and let your guards down: you'll smile or you'll even laugh out loud.


Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) ,  a thirty-something single New Yorker,  is lost in love stories, obsessed with the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice and looking for her very own Mr. Darcy. She invests all her savings in a vacation to an exclusive resort in England called Austenland. This resort lets people dress in Regency period clothes, play whist and croquet and flirt, that is to say, play a very dangerous game. 

Would I ever do the same? Nope, not even if they paid me a fortune. No way,  if like in Jane's case, they asked me for money. If I must be honest, that was a disturbing element which distracted me from fully enjoying the fun: women paying to flirt with handsome men? I don't think Jane Austen would approve. I see her frowning disapprovingly from her little writing desk up there where she is now. No, no, no.
Anyway, apparently, Jane Hayes,  the lovely protagonist of the movie, doesn't go to Austenland to flirt and is  rather annoyed by the fact that dashing and brooding Mr Nobley (J. J. Feild) tries to pretend he is interested in her only because he is supposed to be doing so in the role he plays ...

Fortunately, Martin (Bret McKenzie) is someone honest and not performing the role of a suitor at the mansion. Not an actor but a servant. Could Jane resist his charm? It is not so easy for our lovely Austen addict to distinguish between appearence and reality and to decide whom she can trust.  
Her journey back home will be out of disappointment. Jane is resigned to renounce her dream of finding a Mr Darcy in real life.
 But can an Austen-inspired movie renounce its happy ending? 
My advice is: if you haven't seen it yet, give it a try. Don't expect too much, but free your mind from prejudices. I'm sure you'll find something to like.

For full cast and more info see Austenland at imdb
Buy Austenland DVD at amazon.com or amazon.co.uk
  
Watch the movie online or own it through YEKRA

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Austenland

Jane Hayes’s (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood … but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life—and maybe even love—begins. Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) and Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers) also star in this charming romantic comedy.

7 comments:

Farida Mestek said...

I really like this movie. I didn't think that I would, but I found it very appealing and entertaining. In fact, I've already watched it a few times and I'm sure that I'll watch it again. It's light and fun and I liked most of their costumes and predicaments. The way poor Jane was treated because of her basic package! Hilarious. The only thing that didn't sit well with me was the fact that the whole thing was staged and paid actors were involved.

Maria Grazia said...

Well, it was the same thing which bothered me a little. Women paying actors to flirt? I don't think real Jane Austen fans would accept that.

LizzyS (Sylvia-66) said...

I must confess that I was a bit disappointed with the book, a very good idea in itself but very poorly written. But I appreciated the "trip into the contemporary world of a certain fandom and of a certain market which overtly exploits the devotion of certain fans" (perfectly put!). If this is what I can find in the film also... well, yes, I will give it a try.

Maria Grazia said...

Hi LizzyS,
I can't tell about the book, since I haven't read it. But I'm sure I liked the movie and I'm ready to rewatch it again soon. I hope you'll give it a try, just to have some light fun.
Thanks for visiting and commenting
MG

dstoutholcomb said...

it's been on pay per view--I've been thinking about watching it

diggsstudio said...

I was very disappointed in this movie. After seeing "Lost in Austen" (which I loved) I thought I was in for a good story. But for me it was lackluster with the typical comedic moment. I would like to read the novel to see if it was any better.

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