wed 22/05/2024

Austenland | reviews, news & interviews



Jane Austen is coming soon to a tenner near you. This homage, however, is not on the money

Misfire: 'Austenland'

There is a life-size cardboard cut-out of Colin Firth in Austenland. He blends in very nicely. The only way you can tell him apart from the other actors in this cloth-eared, cack-handed romantic comedy of paramount awfulness is you can't see the despair and self-loathing in the whites of his eyes.

Whether the script was in quite such dreadful nick when the cast first saw it and signed up is a matter for speculation. Perhaps the finer inanities and more sclerotic non-sequiturs were carefelly woven in during the shoot. The result is a rare collector’s item which should be prescribed to all Janeites in want of a detox (the abundance of whom is a truth universally acknowledged).

The plot, such as it is, involves a thirtysomething singleton called Jane (Keri Russell) from somewhere clean in America whose bedroom and indeed life is given over to Darcy worship. An English holiday package offers immersion in a place very much like Pemberley. Unfortunately, her finances going only so far, she finds she has been cast as the country cousin without a fortune, while a vulgar husband-hunting moneybags (Jennifer Coolidge) gets the heiress treatment from the hostess Mrs Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour) and her cast of smouldering actors, who may prefer to go nameless but, sod it, JJ Feild is in the Darcy role and Bret McKenzie plays the romantic cad (that's them looking embarrassed in the picture).

Buried in some inaccessible substratum of Sherry Hale’s novel, which she has adapted with director Jerusha Hess, is a comedy about the clash between Regency manners and the fantasised meta-worlds found in The Sims and The Truman Show. Easily the most promising scenes find the actors out of character by the swimming pool, bickering and bitching. That accounts for about three minutes. The other 87, in which all seem hell-bent on embodying the very antithesis of both comedy and romance, establish a dismal new nadir in the exploitation of the Austen brand. Give this a very wide berth.

Don't believe this review? Watch a clip from Austenland

The result is a rare collector’s item which should be prescribed to all Janeites in want of a detox


Editor Rating: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)

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