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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised
I'm not a huge Jane Austen fan (I've read one of her books and seen screen adaptations of two of her books). I expected this film to be contrived and pretentious however I was surprised to discover that I did enjoy this film. It's well written with good performances. The character's stories parallels Jane Austen's plotline but it was done in a subtle, funny way so it...
Published on 27 Mar 2008 by Alias Angelique

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be prejudiced...
You don't have to be bookish to enjoy this unexpectedly bright film which centres upon the lives of the members of the eponymous club. Lively direction coupled with a superb 'ensemble' cast makes for an entertaining and perceptive snapshot of the complicated lives of half a dozen friends/acquaintances who are jointly studying Jane Austen for fun or 'therapy'. No, you...
Published on 29 Aug 2010 by Shmorganzola


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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised, 27 Mar 2008
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
I'm not a huge Jane Austen fan (I've read one of her books and seen screen adaptations of two of her books). I expected this film to be contrived and pretentious however I was surprised to discover that I did enjoy this film. It's well written with good performances. The character's stories parallels Jane Austen's plotline but it was done in a subtle, funny way so it wasn't too "in your face". For romantic comedies fans or for anyone wanting something lighthearted and uplifting, I would definitely recommend this film.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'What would Jane do?' - Watch this movie!, 2 Mar 2008
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
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.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Never Underestimate The Power Of A Well-Written Letter...", 17 Mar 2008
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR FOR THE DVD - SEE ALSO SEPARATE REVIEW FOR THE 'BLU RAY' ***

It's November 2007 (released on DVD 17 March 2008) and I've just come back from an early evening showing of this film in our nearby multiplex on a wet and windy Saturday night in London. My mate and I were looking for something uplifting and light and decided on this. No one else did. We were the lone two in the cinema - literally. I suspect that's because "The Jane Austen Book Club" has received 3-star reviews almost everywhere - which is a damn shame - because it's so much better than that - and we both thought so.

Here's the basic story: Six women of different ages and sexual persuasions form a book club to discuss something that unites and excites them all - Jane Austen's six period-piece novels. One will be tackled and talked about every month in the club in a different location. There's "Pride & Prejudice", "Sense & Sensibility", "Emma", "Northanger Abbey", " Mansfield Park" and "Persuasion". The actresses are Amy Brenneman (who is married to and having trouble with Jimmy Smits), Emily Blunt (who is a married teacher lusting after an 18-year hunky student, while she gets nothing mentally or physically from her basic guy of a husband and mad hippy mum), Kathy Baker (the oldest in the group, who has been married six times and is happily looking for husband number seven), Maggie Grace who's Amy Brenneman's daughter and a lesbian in love with a manipulative writer - and finally Maria Bello - who loves dogs more than almost anything - including men.

The Writer/Director Robin Swicord has sculpted their lives to mirror Austen's plots and as some reviewers have pointed out, these bits are a little too pat for comfort. But that doesn't stop the dialogue from being repeatedly touching and amazingly on the pulse of how love is in the complicated and confusing 2000s. There are rare insights here and beautifully observed snippets of life too (taking a tip from a device Austen uses in her books - dialogue by Kathy Baker's character titles this review).

The actresses as you can imagine (given great material) are uniformly superb also - especially Emily Blunt - who looks ravishing every time the camera is pointed at her - a huge star in the making if ever there was one. Maria Bello is her usual classy self, bringing real gravitas and warmth to her character, who has to do the most 'growing' and Amy Brenneman adds a real earthiness to what would have been a little too frothy a crew. Maggie Grace is both lovely and sexy as the passionate and headstrong daughter. The warmth and sheer class of Kathy Baker combined with a brilliantly nutty fruitcake turn by Lynn Redgrave only add icing to an already fantastic ensemble cake.

Then come the men who are excellent choices both as actors and eye-candy. The hugely likeable Hugh Dancy plays the hapless Grigg who fancies Maria Bello's character Jocelyn - but she only wants to pair him off with Amy Brennaman's character Sylvia. Sylvia is too much in love with/and hurt by her now parted/cheating husband Jimmy Smits to notice anyone. Jimmy Smits is excellent and so likeable - it's easy to see why Robin Swicord wanted to work with him. Emily Blunt's prim and proper Prudie is driven by her need to be neat, ordered and have everything just so - but she is wild inside for forbidden fruit - licking her rather delicious lips at the heartthrob that is Trey played by Kevin Zegers ("...he looks at me like he's the spoon...and I'm a dish of ice cream..."). But the unfolding surprise is Marc Blucas as Blunt's husband Dean - his performance is clever - he seems like a sap at first trapped in a marriage he no longer understands - but his growth back to his wife is beautifully handled and convincing.

And then of course there's 'that' writer - the gorgeous Jane Austen - who generation-after-generation takes every heart by storm. Hearing each of Austen's novels discussed and critiqued and then hearing extracts from some of them only makes you want to run out and instantly buy all six - then go on a Jane-bender yourself.

"The Jane Austen Book Club" is not quite a rom-com - nor a full-on girly fest - it's much better than that. Like Austen's writing - it's properly romantic and wordy-delicious - and you want to return to it again and again. More importantly - you can't help but feel that real heart, belief and joy went into the making of this 'little film' and all concerned had a total blast doing it.

"The Jane Austen Book Club" is that rarest of things in Hollywood these days - a movie that gives you both romance and heart - and doesn't get cloying on either. Personally I think it's a bit of an unsung masterpiece. Ignore the so-so reviews and give it a whirl...

PS: There now follows extracts from my all new 2007 in-the-real-world kickass street version of "Pride & Prejudice" - coming to a multiplex near you - just in time for Oscars 2008 next year. Mister Darcy (played by a bald Bruce Willis) has just emerged from the lake all clingy and wet and unable to control his ardor no more. He pulls Miss Bennett (played by Sharon Stone in a ludicrously tight rubber bodice) to his chest in a saucy-fellow Errol Flynn kind of way. There is a longing in his visage and it isn't for English tea and muffins. There is something in his eye and it isn't engine-oil or grit.

MISTER DARCY
(Looking down at her heaving bosoms)
Oh Miss Bennett!

ELIZABETH BENNETT
(Looking down at something else that's heaving)
Oh Mister Darcy! What is 'that' in your soggy breaches?
(She now looks away to Pemberley's six hundred bedrooms - suddenly acquires a glint in her eye)
Let's go back to your place!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great girly film, but also very thought provoking, 12 Aug 2009
By 
Ms. Claire Finlayson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
I have watched this film several times, I never tire of it. It's so questioning of the way our lives and our stereotypes are-i.e. the single girl= the miserable, lonely girl, the newlywed=the happy, blissfully in love one. They form a book group for Jane Austen, for each girl (with a gorgeous and charming man thrown in) and each take a book offering their thoughts and ideas on what Austen intended, and their own ideas for what should have happened. It's interesting how it plays out, detailing the lives (almost in a love actually style way but not) of each character, and how Austen relates so well in modern times. It really questions us about what we would do in this situation, or better yet, what Austen would do. A must have.
It isn't a direct relation to Austen's work itself, it is very loosely based around it, but it makes no claim to being based on her work. It's not. If you happen to see it or buy it under the illusion that it is related, you shouldn't judge under that. It isn't a book adaptation of Austen's work herself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be prejudiced..., 29 Aug 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
You don't have to be bookish to enjoy this unexpectedly bright film which centres upon the lives of the members of the eponymous club. Lively direction coupled with a superb 'ensemble' cast makes for an entertaining and perceptive snapshot of the complicated lives of half a dozen friends/acquaintances who are jointly studying Jane Austen for fun or 'therapy'. No, you don't have to know her works to enjoy the film (in fact, there is comparatively little time devoted to their discussions) but it certainly does no harm to appreciate a few in-jokes and remarks. This film does not try to make any big statements, and, thankfully, the pace means that issues are never laboured or sledge-hammered. The characters are sufficiently different to keep the interest flowing. A worthwhile purchase.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charmed I'm Sure, 12 Mar 2010
By 
sarahlou_c (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
I read the book by Karen Fowler a long time ago. I'm not quite sure when, I didn't remember very much, apart from it was enjoyable, but it wasn't like I was eagerly awaiting the film adaptation. All in all my expectations weren't high and I was very pleasantly surprised.

I really liked the way all of the characters unfolded and grew together. Such different people and yet connecting, working past and through difficulties, a real study of relationships.

The acting was strong. Prudy for me was excellent (and I'm now debating whether to cut a fringe into my bob, just to really accentuate the kooky angst in me:)) All of the players were really rounded, layered and believable, except perhaps for Grigg? (He reminded me of a Labrador)

As varied as Austen, as intricate with its twists and turns and observations. So warm. Like Ready Brek I glowed a little around the edges and often found myself smiling. Just that whilst I didn't feel swept away with the romance (and I do like the sweep,) I did feel rather charmed by it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light but not too fluffy..., 1 April 2009
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
This is a pretty rare beast: an ensemble drama where you actually care about every single character and strand of the story. I was expecting it to be a bit of a girlie slush-fest, but in fact, the tale of 5 women (and 1 man) who gradually come to re-evaluate their lives while reading the novels of Jane Austen in their monthly book group is surprisingly touching and low on sentimentality. There's a character for everyone to identify with, whether it's Maria Bello's resolute singelton taken by surprise by the fact she may have found her perfect man, or Emily Blunt's unhappily married schoolteacher contemplating an affair. Even if love/romance isn't generally your bag this really is worth a look.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy to watch feel good movie, 28 April 2009
By 
C. A. Gardiner "Charley" (Berkshire. UK.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
This movie is fun and touches on real life situations in a light way. It was very easy to watch and has a happy ending. It helps if you know a bit about Jane Austins books but it is not essential.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Never Underestimate The Power Of A Well-Written Letter...", 18 Mar 2008
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
It's November 2007 (released on DVD 17 March 2008) and I've just come back from an early evening showing of this film in our nearby multiplex on a wet and windy Saturday night in London. My mate and I were looking for something uplifting and light and decided on this. No one else did. We were the lone two in the cinema - literally. I suspect that's because "The Jane Austen Book Club" has received 3-star reviews almost everywhere - which is a damn shame - because it's so much better than that - and we both thought so.

Here's the basic story: Six women of different ages and sexual persuasions form a book club to discuss something that unites and excites them all - Jane Austen's six period-piece novels. One will be tackled and talked about every month in the club in a different location. There's "Pride & Prejudice", "Sense & Sensibility", "Emma", "Northanger Abbey", " Mansfield Park" and "Persuasion". The actresses are Amy Brennaman (who is married to and having trouble with Jimmy Smits), Emily Blunt (who is a married teacher lusting after an 18-year hunky student, while she gets nothing mentally or physically from her basic guy of a husband and mad hippy mum), Kathy Baker (the oldest in the group, who has been married six times and is happily looking for husband number seven), Maggie Grace who's Amy Brennaman's daughter and a lesbian in love with a manipulative writer - and finally Maria Bello - who loves dogs more than almost anything - including men.

The Writer/Director Robin Swicord has sculpted their lives to mirror Austen's plots and as some reviewers have pointed out, these bits are a little too pat for comfort. But that doesn't stop the dialogue from being repeatedly touching and amazingly on the pulse of how love is in the complicated and confusing 2000s. There are rare insights here and beautifully observed snippets of life too (taking a tip from a device Austen uses in her books - dialogue by Kathy Baker's character titles this review).

The actresses as you can imagine (given great material) are uniformly superb also - especially Emily Blunt - who looks ravishing every time the camera is pointed at her - a huge star in the making if ever there was one. Maria Bello is her usual classy self, bringing real gravitas and warmth to her character, who has to do the most 'growing' and Amy Brennaman adds a real earthiness to what would have been a little too frothy a crew. Maggie Grace is both lovely and sexy as the passionate and headstrong daughter. The warmth and sheer class of Kathy Baker combined with a brilliantly nutty fruitcake turn by Lynn Redgrave only add icing to an already fantastic ensemble cake.

Then come the men who are excellent choices both as actors and eye-candy. The hugely likeable Hugh Dancy plays the hapless Grigg who fancies Maria Bello's character Jocelyn - but she only wants to pair him off with Amy Brennaman's character Sylvia. Sylvia is too much in love with/and hurt by her now parted/cheating husband Jimmy Smits to notice anyone. Jimmy Smits is excellent and so likeable - it's easy to see why Robin Swicord wanted to work with him. Emily Blunt's prim and proper Prudie is driven by her need to be neat, ordered and have everything just so - but she is wild inside for forbidden fruit - licking her rather delicious lips at the heartthrob that is Trey played by Kevin Zegers ("...he looks at me like he's the spoon...and I'm a dish of ice cream..."). But the unfolding surprise is Marc Blucas as Blunt's husband Dean - his performance is clever - he seems like a sap at first trapped in a marriage he no longer understands - but his growth back to his wife is beautifully handled and convincing.

And then of course there's 'that' writer - the gorgeous Jane Austen - who generation-after-generation takes every heart by storm. Hearing each of Austen's novels discussed and critiqued and then hearing extracts from some of them only makes you want to run out and instantly buy all six - then go on a Jane-bender yourself.

"The Jane Austen Book Club" is not quite a rom-com - nor a full-on girly fest - it's much better than that. Like Austen's writing - it's properly romantic and wordy-delicious - and you want to return to it again and again. More importantly - you can't help but feel that real heart, belief and joy went into the making of this 'little film' and all concerned had a total blast doing it.

"The Jane Austen Book Club" is that rarest of things in Hollywood these days - a movie that gives you both romance and heart - and doesn't get cloying on either. Personally I think it's a bit of an unsung masterpiece. Ignore the so-so reviews and give it a whirl...

PS: There now follows extracts from my all new 2007 in-the-real-world kickass street version of "Pride & Prejudice" - coming to a multiplex near you - just in time for Oscars 2008 next year. Mister Darcy (played by a bald Bruce Willis) has just emerged from the lake all clingy and wet and unable to control his ardor no more. He pulls Miss Bennett (played by Sharon Stone in a ludicrously tight rubber bodice) to his chest in a saucy-fellow Errol Flynn kind of way. There is a longing in his visage and it isn't for English tea and muffins. There is something in his eye and it isn't grit.

MISTER DARCY
(Looking down at her heaving bosoms)
Oh Miss Bennett!

ELIZABETH BENNETT
(Looking down at something else that's heaving)
Oh Mister Darcy! What is 'that' in your soggy breaches?
(She now looks away to Pemberley's six hundred bedrooms - suddenly acquires a glint in her eye)
Let's go back to your place!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not so bad, 11 Mar 2009
By 
H. Lacroix (France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] (DVD)
I had read the book and been disappointed, no one I suppose could say that it was deep in any way and I find that it is harder for me to forgive superficiality in a book than in a film. I think it is because when a movie is light weight, provided the actors know their job well and the scenario is not too stupid, I can still enjoy the performances. It so happened that because the DVD was cheap I decided to give it a chance and I actually enjoyed it. Hugh Dancy was an excellent choice. He is so utterly charming and convincing as Grigg that it would be difficult to find fault with him. I also found there was great chemistry between him and Maria Bello and I utterly believed that the two of them had fallen in love. Emily Blunt did a good job as well, although she is more difficult to like, but it is her character that is at fault and not her acting. All in all I spent a good moment with this film and I certainly can't write I wished I hadn't bought it. in fact I'm rather glad I did!
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The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008]
The Jane Austen Book Club [DVD] [2007] [2008] by Robin Swicord (DVD - 2008)
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