Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's Hot Here in Austen, or How I Love Jane's Men

The Jane Austen Book Club
Dir. Robin Swicord
Robin Swicord (screenplay)
Karen Joy Fowler (book)

Fiction (read: movies and books) are always about making easy decisions hard. In The Jane Austen Book Club these type of decisions are of the order of: Marc Blucas or Kevin Zegers? (The answer should always be Kevin and not Mr Riley Finn); should I take back a cheating Jimmy Smits? (The answer should always be no dear Judge Amy!); or even, why does Maria Bello hesitate in falling for Hugh Dancy? (thankfully the movie seems at a loss in answering this one)
Yes, it is hard to understand the world in which these women (and men) live in. A world deprived of easy choices - tormented by the chaos that is 'modern life' (quite bluntly expressed in that initial montage to Paolo Nutini's New Shoes, which I rather enjoyed). What comforts them, you ask? (My personal answer would be the hot men they are surrounded by, but) The movie suggests reading Jane Austen. Six characters, Six novels, Six months... You get the idea. And while the movie is formulaic (as all "girlie" movies tend to be these days) Book Club has moments of brilliance and a heart-warming feel throughout that - like an Austen novel, makes you feel deeply in love with it, despite (or in spite) of its flaws.
Good part of this is due to the cast, which is why I went to see it in the first place: how could I pass viewing a movie with the most attractive guy alive (yes ... that former Air Bud kid - we're the same age, so it's not creepy) or refuse watching a movie with one of the hottest actresses around (the delicious Ms Blunt of Devil Wears Prada Fame)? And yet, it was Mr Hugh Dancy who stole my heart away - if I had a choice I would still sleep with Kevin, but Hugh made me fall in love with him. I mean, how can you not fall for a guy who (besides being ridiculously good looking) has R2D2 as his ringtone, attends Buffy conferences and loves a good cup of Starbucks coffee?
The plot is of course quite traditional - it's Austen v.2007, but Swicord and her cast make you care about the characters - we understand Prudie when she cries "High School is never over," grieve alongside Sylvia when her husband leaves her for (not even a younger!) woman, and come to understand Grigg's "No rules, no fear" aphorism by the end of the movie. And in a sense we do this by reading. Ultimately this movie may be about relationships, or about Austen, but for me it was about reading - a book, a letter, a smile, a look. If the characters are indeed immersed in the chaos of modern life (where cars break down, metal detectors are a bitch and vending machines refuse to pay up) then in a very romanticised way, The Jane Austen Book Club shows us what happens when we find 'human connection' through reading. I just wished the ending had been a bit more brave: just like Austen characters, the characters here seem unequivocally leading to heteronormative monogamy (marriage and such) and I find that disheartening - I can't really follow up without major 'spoilers' but suffice it to say that the smartest of the group is the hot young lesbian.

Favourite Line: "It's the Empire Strikes Back in reverse!" Grigg bringing a bit of Lucas into Austen: hilarious.


POP COLONY said...

Now I'm totally going to see this tomorrow...I mean TODAY!!! Even with the SPOILERS I'm totally going to enjoy it. I want Hugh Dancy's character to be my fictional husband. Ok I'll shut up now.

POP COLONY said...

BTW I just totally remembered that in the magnum opus that was Blood & Chocolate Mr.Dancy was a (convincing) graphic novelist. Mmm which Dancy to choose?

POP COLONY said...

Saw it!!! I really liked it. I think what really surprised me was that it had great pacing for a dromedy that takes place over like 2 years. Even though I'm not exactly content with Emily not tapping some Air Bud. But OMG Hugh Dancy as Grigg effing killed me. How come we didn't see guys like that at Comic-Con?!?!?!?! Are the geeks infinitely hotter in NoCal???