Austenland explores the fictional world of Jane Haynes (played by Keri Russell). Jane has been obsessed with the world of Jane Austen she was a preteen and first saw Pride and Prejudice… you know the version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. The man so many of us Austen fans continue to visual Mr. Darcy to be. Jane Haynes is no different, and she hasn’t kept her obsession under wraps. Her apartment is filled with memorabilia, tea sets, and all things frilled and ruffled – there’s even a life-sized cardboard cutout of Firth as Darcy.
Convinced that “all good men are fictional,” Jane spends her life savings on Austen vacation with the goal of escaping the real world and writing her own novel to the hopeless romantic and unrealistically lucky heroines of Austen’s novels. The trip isn’t quite what she expects at first, but starts to unfold to a very deja vu-ish tune.
The script is messy and comically awkward throughout more than half the film, yet there is still something charming beneath the surface. I don’t think that any male or any non-Austen diehard will enjoy this flick, but if you’re a hopeless romantic like me that dreamed of discovering her Mr. Darcy (Mr. Knightley in my case) then there’s something here that will make you giggle and over-analyze all the romantic possibilities.
Keri Russell still has that Felicity-like innocence to her that I adored so much when I first discovered her more more than a decade ago. Jennifer Coolidge is… well… Jennifer Coolidge. Over-the-top and outrageous, but that’s always what she’s done best – and this film is no exception.
As for the love interests, JJ Feild has the Mr. Darcy look down – not drop dead handsome at first glance… but upon second glance… you’re completely enamored by his looks. I can’t quite put my finger on this phenomenon – but I’ve see it in so many films based on Austen’s work. I won’t ramble on about his hotness ( though I could…) – but this paired with his charm makes the typical Jane Austen fan fall instantly in love.
The other handsome fellow here is played by Bret McKenzie, and while anyone that has read Austen’s work before knows that there is a love triangle a foot – both Bret and JJ do a wonderful job at wooing Jane. While the outcome of this story is completely apparent early on, I’d venture to say you can’t call yourself a true fan of Austen if you don’t figure it out before the last half of the film.
Overall, it’s a charming film – while still eccentric and a tad immature. However, it makes for a lovely night out for any girl and her girlfriends that just want to get lost once more in the ideal romantic fantasyland of Jane Austen.
Review By: Emma Loggins