Damn Jane Austen for being so lazy that she only wrote six novels, meaning that Hollywood has to find other ways to get Austen-hungry fans into the cinema. Based on the novel of the same name by Sharon Hale Austenland hopes to appeal to viewers who can’t get enough of Austen.
Jane (Keri Russell) is a 30-something American who is obsessed with everything Austen related. So much so that she books a trip to Austenland-a Jane Austen theme holiday run by the strict Mrs Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour) in England where the guests dress up and have actors playing up the Austen tropes. Here everyone is guaranteed to end their holiday with an ‘engagement’ . But can Jane find out who is her real-life Mr Darcy and who playing a game like Mr Wickham?
I normally don’t like to generalise films as being either a girl’s kind of film and a guy’s kind of film, but how much you enjoy Austenland will probably increase if you are a) female b) enjoy Jane Austen’s novels and film adaptations and c) have a high tolerance for slushy rom-coms. As I fulfil all of these requirements I did indeed find myself enjoying Austenland. It may not be the most demanding film but there was something charming about a film that doesn’t try hard to pretend it’s cool or edgy.
Main character Jane starts off as a bit wet and could very easily have bordered into annoying but Keri Russell (Waitress) gives a likeable performance making you want to spur her on rather than telling her to stuff Austen and spend her money in Las Vegas instead. Even though initially you may try to stop yourself getting involved in Jane’s complicated love affairs you do find yourself interested in which man she may end up with. Her friendship with fellow American guest Jennifer Coolidge and rivallry with Georgina King also provides some laughs.
And the resort is, as you’d expect, full of many handsome and dashing young men for the ladies to swoon over. Flight of the Concords star Bret Mckenzie is charming as stablehand Martin, and although former Hollyoaks actor Ricky Whittle has little to do other than show off his torso-at least he plays to his strengths. JJ Feild (already use to Austen having played Henry Tilsey is ITV’s brillant adaptation of Northanger Abbey opposite Felicty Jones) is also appropriately smouldering as the Darcy-esque actor Mr Henry Nobley.
So if you enjoy rom-coms where you don’t expect to engage your brian too much, and you’re willing to suspend belief that someone would spend their life savings on an Austen-themed holiday then let Austenland work its charms on you.
Rating 3/5-undemanding romance that wears its love of Austen on its sleave