The Jane Austen Book Club
Rated PG-13; Directed by Robin Swicord; Starring Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Hugh Dancy, Amy Brennamen, Maggie Grace, Kathy Baker, Jimmy Smits
The Jane Austen Book Club is one of those pleasant films that don’t offer much in the way of surprises, but still manage to be likable. Based on a book by Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club is a genial, sometimes moving, sometimes formulaic tale of women coming to term with love in all its messiness while involved in a book club to discuss Jane Austen novels.
There is Joceylyn (Maria Belllo) who is fiercely independent and happy as a single woman. Prudie (Emily Blunt) is an unhappy wife who finds one of her students a little too attractive. Sylvia (Amy Brennamen), who has been happily married for over 20 years, is devastated to learn that her husband, played by Jimmy Smits, wants out of the marriage. Their daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace) is a lesbian who is also finding love a rocky road. When Bernadette (Kathy Baker) decides to set up a book reading club devoted to Jane Austen, the five women are also joined by Grigg (Hugh Dancy) who joins the club as a way to get closer to Jocelyn, who pushes him at Sylvia.
Director Robin Swicord keeps things rolling, the cast is nice, but it is a movie that loses power because of too many characters jostling for attention. In trying to come up with a reasonable length for a movie I imagine lots of character development was tossed out. Maria Bello and Emily Blunt receive the main focus in the film. What remains is still worthy. Plus, any movie that gives us people talking about Jane Austen novels earns points from me.