The Jane Austen Book Club
based on the novel by Karen Joy Fowler
2007 • 106 minutes • Sony Pictures Classics
I don’t know if I have anything particular to say about The Jane Austen Book Club, a film wherein six members of a Jane Austen book club find that Austen’s writing sheds insight on their romantic conundrums, as a film unto itself.
I mean, the extended montage of just how difficult modern life is (or was, in the far-off past of 2007) that opens the picture does make its point a little too heavily before launching into the story proper. Some of the jokes are a little broad for my tastes. And I did definitely spend the bulk of the film telling Emily Blunt to absolutely not sleep with her student. (I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reveal that Blunt’s character follows my wise advice.) But, largely, it’s a very comfortable romantic comedy that balances its large cast well, treats all its characters with respect, and chugs along to a pleasant conclusion where everyone, now happily matched, accepts the wisdom of the classics and decide to start reading the Aubrey–Maturin series so they’ll never run out of material. It’s fun, it’s not infuriating (as mainstream American romantic comedies can tend to be, through no inherent fault of the genre), and it’s a little dated. (Two words: flip phones.) What’s not to like, even if it doesn’t make much of an impression?
But I do have something to say about The Jane Austen Book Club as a film in context of female representation in American cinema. Continue reading