Sunday, February 24, 2008

Seeing the world through Jane-colored glasses

This weekend we watched The Jane Austen Book Club. I'd heard of it, but though I have enjoyed all of Jane Austen's books (some more than others), I missed this when it was in the theater, and I hadn't rushed right out to get the DVD either.

I should have.

It was delightful. The characters were quirky, but not unbelievable. They were engaging, even as they had foibles and eccentricities that made them human and, thus, vulnerable.

They brought back memories of reading Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion (my faves) as well as some of my less faves.

And, of course, they had the added benefit of allowing me to spend a couple of hours with Jimmy Smits, Hugh Dancy and Marc Blucas. Yes, very enjoyable indeed.

The story revolves around five women and one charming, slightly innocent, often misunderstood, occasionally clueless man who read and discuss Jane Austen's six novels at the rate of one a month. Some of these people know each other well. Some are complete newcomers.

Each, of course, brings a backstory -- Sylvie has given her all for her family for twenty-odd years; Jocelyn loves to organize everyone but can't seem to commit to anyone; Bernadette reinvents herself -- and her love life -- every few years; Prudie can't seem to define herself except in contrast to her mother; Allegra falls in love with whoever rescues her; and Grigg, well, he's often far too nice for his own good.

The novels are their refuge from their day-t0-day lives -- and also the lens through which they see their own dilemmas. The parallels aren't like cudgels the director beats you over the head with. They are simply there -- perspectives you might not discover unless you'd read Persuasion or Mansfield Park or Sense and Sensibility that week.

And seeing a film of a book club reading books that make them reflect on their own issues may seem a little too far removed to be interesting. It's not. It's charming, well-written, and very well acted.

If you haven't watched it, and you enjoy ensemble stories and Jane Austen, you are missing a treat.

As we're on a Jane Austen kick, Becoming Jane is next. And since PBS has re-run P&P, I think we might have to break out the DVD version and do the same.

What have you seen lately? Got any good recommendations? I'd love to hear them.


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3 Comments:

Blogger Michelle Styles said...

When it comes out over there -- watch Cranford. Mrs Gaskell rocks. It stars Judy Dench, Eileen Atkins and a host of others.

25 February, 2008  
Blogger Christa said...

I watched the Brave one with Jodie Foster the other day. Even though she ends up killing people as a kind of vigilante you still root for her.

25 February, 2008  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Thanks, Michelle. I'll keep that in in mind and put it on my list. Am in awe of Judy Dench.

Christa, I haven' seen that. I'll check it out. Jodie Foster always makes interesting dramatic choices. I don't always like the films she picks, but some of them are stunning.

25 February, 2008  

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