The Jane Austen Book Club

Die-hard Austenites might shudder at the idea of a Jane Austen fan club in modern-day California, but Karen Joy Fowler’s source novel fared well enough to give rise to this adaptation. Director Robin Swicord has cast actresses best known for reliable supporting roles: Emily Blunt is uptight teacher, Prudie; Kathy Baker is oft-divorced Bernadette; Maria Bello is match-making Jocelyn; and Amy Brenneman is recently separated Sylvia. Together with a lesbian and a bloke – for balance, presumably – they form a group to read and discuss Austen’s novels. When their lives start mirroring those of the writer’s heroines, Austen readers may find themselves torn between enjoying the references and finding them crass (‘You’re such an Emma,’ Jocelyn is told at one point). But Prudie’s problems, which include a drug-addled mother and a flirtatious pupil, lend enough colour and humour to help this muddle along just fine in a sentimental, mainstream kind of way. Although by constantly referencing Austen’s sharp wit and characterisation, this can only ever come up short in comparison.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday November 16 2007
Duration: 105 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robin Swicord
Screenwriter: Robin Swicord
Cast: Maria Bello
Kathy Baker
Amy Brenneman
Emily Blunt
Maggie Grace
Jimmy Smits
Hugh Dancy
Lynn Redgrave
Marc Blucas
Kevin Zegers
Gwendolyn Yeo

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 1 star:0
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1 person listening
Liz

I found this so hard to watch. The characters were fluffy, and not nearly as engaging as a BBC special of one of the real Jane Austen books. Maybe I have missed the point. But for my money The Hours and French Liietenants Woman, both with latter day versions of the subject, were much better

Liz

I found this so hard to watch. The characters were fluffy, and not nesarly as engaging as a BBC special of one of the real Jane Austen books. Maybe I have missed the point. But for my money The Hours and French Liietenants Woman, both with latter day versions of the subject, were much better

Jim Smith

This is a very enjoyable and well-made film, with an excellent cast. Inevitably the story is a bit contrived, but it's clerverly done and you don't really mind because the characters are engaging. Although the target audience is primarily female, there are a couple of strong male characters which adds some balance. Although not an all-time classic, it's great fun and well worth seeing.