I knew that my reason for forking out the money to see this film rested purely on the basis that it had the words 'Jane Austen' in the title and that I'm easy prey when it comes to all things Jane related, consequently my expectations were rather low when I started watching this film; I expected it to be trashy but sufficiently Austen-filled to keep me content, well, in many respects it was but it was also so much more!
The Jane Austen Book Club achieves a rare balance which I am sure will keep Austen fans and and novices alike engaged with the plot. Each of the female leads offer a warm and realistic depiction of women at different stages of their lives, struggling with the demands of life and identifying with female characters written almost two centuries ago. Their engagement with Austen's characters works to highlight a sorority and timelessness among women, Prudie in particular as the outsider of the women proved a particularly interesting character. It is for me, however, the character of Grigg, the film's foremost male lead, who steals the show, stopping it short of becoming just another 'chick-flick' and adding another layer of depth to the film.
The film is called The Jane Austen Book Club but thankfully dodges concerning itself wholly with Austen's books, which means you needn't have read the books to enjoy the film. Indeed, even the most die-hard Austen fan can be induced to forgive the film's loose handling of the plot of Austen's Persuasion for the sake of the main story. It is a delightful story with some truly wonderful moments and I would encourage anyone, male and female alike, to give it a go.
Be that as it may, I am biased. I love all of Austen's books, Grigg's sci-fi knowledge had me fondly recalling my teenage years, especially when he talks about Buffy and Ursula Le Guin, and with Snow Patrol on the soundtrack I was delirious with happiness. If I hadn't personally responded to these elements I'd probably have given this movie a 4-star rating. But I did so top marks all the way.