I recently went on an inadvertent Austen kick. There are so many movies about Jane Austen and her novels these days. Just looking through the small selection of movies at the library, I stumbled upon several of them. They seemed to fit my mood. It was in great contrast to my previous movie kick, which was superhero films, specifically the latest entries in the Thor, Wolverine, and X-Men lines. Incidentally, you wouldn’t think that Austen and the X-Men would had anything in common, but they do, thanks to James McAvoy, who may now be my favorite actor.
Now, the particulars.
- First was Austenland. That marked the start of the Austen kick, and it ought to have been the end, too, because it was not a good movie. Keri Russell plays a pathetically obsessed Austen fan who spends her life savings to visit a theme park called Austenland. It sounds like a great idea, immersing oneself in Austen, and I see the appeal that place like Austenland could have. But, most of the characters were unbelievable and unlikeable. The film was redeemed somewhat by the ending, when the hero professes his feelings so earnestly that even I would have been tempted to say yes to him and run away to England to be his bride. It’s almost worth seeing just for that ending. Perhaps the book, upon which the movie was based, is better.
- Bridget Jones next made an appearance, as she does from time to time. She’s always fun to watch, as is Mark Darcy. This is the only film of the four that I had seen before, and the only one that I own.
- Then there was Becoming Jane, which theorizes about the love affair Austen may have had while young and which some say could have been the inspiration forĀ Pride and Prejudice. It was not quite as witty as I would have liked, but it had some beautiful settings, and the leads, Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy, can both be mesmerizing to watch. It made me cry repeatedly, but in a good way.
- Last, but not least, was Lost in Austen. The main character is Amanda, who goes through a magic door into the world of Pride and Prejudice, where she lives with the Bennetts as a supposed friend of Elizabeth’s, while Elizabeth enjoys herself in modern-day London. It is mostly about Amanda’s relationships with Elizabeth’s suitors, though Elizabeth does show up late in the movie. The plot does not follow the original, a bold choice that yields mixed results. I thought the actors and actresses did a decent job, but the script was not fantastic, and the happy ending, for which I was grateful (because I like happy endings), failed to take into consideration all of the problems that had been introduced earlier in the film. So it wasn’t super believable, and not something I’d want to watch again, but I enjoyed it while it was playing. It was treated as a single movie on this DVD edition, but I have seen it elsewhere presented as a 4-episode television series.