AustenlandPosted: February 6, 2014
Between this and Death Comes to Pemberley, my movie reviews seems to be quite heavily Austen-inspired lately. Anyway, I’ve been curious about “Austenland” ever since I first heard about the adaptation back in 2011, mainly because it stars one of my British crushes (ha! As if my crushes were anything but British) – JJ Feild. Plus, the plot sounds like the perfect fantasy for a costume drama fan like me: Jane (Keri Russell) whose obsession with Pride and Prejudice is ruining her love life, goes to an Austen-themed resort to get over Mr. Darcy once and for all. She finds herself torn between two guys – the Darcy-esque Henry Nobley (JJ Feild) and Martin, the refreshingly normal stable boy who listens to cheesy 80’s ballads in his free time (Bret McKenzie) – but it’s difficult to tell what’s real and what’s fantasy when you’re in Austenland.
I enjoyed the movie a great deal, mostly because JJ Feild is so damned charming – he may be the resident Darcy here, but I keep seeing him as Henry Tilney (whom he played in Northanger Abbey), who’s way more fun and kind than Darcy. My filmmaker’s brain, though, has quibbles. I think the movie could use about 10 more minutes in the beginning to really show us how bad Jane’s love life is and explain why she would blow her entire savings on this trip, and that the story suffers a bit because the comedy is too over-the-top. Then again, this is directed by one half of the team behind Napoleon Dynamite, and over-the-top, slightly bizarre comedy is their style.
The ridiculous production design, on the other hand, I have no complaint about. It looks normal and pretty from the screencaps, but when you watch the movie, you’ll notice all sorts of brilliant touches like the taxidermy animals and tacky decorations. After all, it doesn’t make sense to have perfect, historically correct sets and costumes at an Austen-themed resort. I laughed out loud at the statues with gold leaves covering up all the naughty bits.
So yeah, I like “Austenland” mainly because of JJ Feild, but I’d recommend the movie if you like a rom-com with a bit of a twist. The book is a fun, quick read, so definitely check it out too.