I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Film Review: Austenland

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
All the way back in January of this year, I blogged about an awesome forthcoming adaptation and now, finally, I've seen it!  I also kinda reviewed (more fangirled over) the Shannon Hale book on my blog before, so I've been excited for this film for awhile.

So far I've seen it once, and I plan to see it a few more times because here's the thing: going into an adaptation of your favorite book you are bound to have a few expectations that are disappointed once you see it.  And there were some things that I was a little iffy on in this film, but I'm still open to thinking that it's only because I was expecting something different or closer to the novel.  I know they have to change things to suit the new medium and to make the story flow better on the screen.  So maybe after I see it again, some of these things won't bother me.  But I did really enjoy this film, and overall I think it's an excellent adaptation so I don't want to gloss over that fact!

Some of the changes:

The prologue of the film was one of the things I wasn't particularly enamored with - the whole introduction to Jane Hayes.  I felt like I identified with her much more in the book as a 30-something fangirl than in the film - where her fangirling felt more over the top and far too much like she was an infatuated teenager.  It felt a little too ridiculous and I almost felt like it put too much of a negative spin on being a fangirl.

About Martin.  I think Bret Mckenzie was very good and charming, but by trying to establish his connection with Jane so quickly there came some really cheesy scenes between them.  That kinda turned me off from that storyline - I just wanted to move on.  And I thought Martin in the book was really very sweet.  I think Martin didn't come off as believable as I found him in the book.

Now Miss Heartwright.  In the film she had an edge to her, which I actually liked, she was a little aggressive, and eager to show off but there was this awkwardly buoyant side to her - sort of over doing her acting which just didn't fit in very well.  Mostly just because I was so confused with why.  It seemed like the only point was to create some humorous moments when I would rather it was made important through character.  There's a little more back story for her, though which was interesting.

The very very end of Austenland was funny and it was great to see what everyone was up to, but ... I don't know.  I need someone who has seen this to tell me what they thought because while I can see why they added it, it just delegitimizes so much about this Austen theme park idea.

The Awesome:

Now for what I loved about the film - Kerri Russell was awesome as Jane - it's established that she really just wants her Regency romance, yet she knows that Austenland is a bit silly and I think the way she was unprepared for everything that happened to her was so well done.  I also loved Colonel Andrews and Captain East - both particularly over the top characterizations but they were fun, and I thought were good for adding that fantasy aspect to Austenland.  They are caricatures of wish fulfillment in Austenland (which in a way Mr. Nobley is as well but he has a bit more depth to him) and the humor that that brought out was just right.

Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Charming was just perfect!   Just the right amount of exaggerated brashness and heart that made you love everything she did and said.  I loved that she was not there because she's an Austen fan, but just for the men.  I wish there was a little more to her backstory like there was with Miss Heartwright, which would have really brought out Miss Charming's character I think.   At least given her a shade more depth.  Her friendship with Jane was such a nice touch though, and I thought it brilliant they arrived at Austenland together - it gave their characters a real sense of camaraderie.

Of course JJ Feild stood out for me in this film (hopefully not because I'm already a fan of his - I'd like to think I'm a little more fair-minded!) but he is just so sweetly uptight and so perfect as Mr. Nobley. Instead of his being a veteran actor in Austenland like in the book, this is his first time taking part and his disdain for the acting that goes on made for some really funny one-liners.  He's aloof and mysterious and of course that's so attractive!  Especially when his aloofness has nothing to do with his feeling superior but only because he is so uncomfortable.  Probably my favorite line in the film (and there's something about the way JJ delivered it!) was when he tells Jane that she doesn't annoy him, she makes him nervous.  So perfect.  There's also an antagonism between Nobley and Martin set up right away and that was much fun too. And the added scenes where you see the actors taking breaks really brought so much to giving a backstory to these characters and I loved seeing how they interacted.

Bottom Line: 

Where I think the film differs the most from the novel is in how everything is much more unsubtle.  It's still funny and romantic and a celebration of Austen romance, but some of the characters hit you over the head with their quirkiness.  I love this story so much though, and so many scenes played out just how I wanted them to (OMG Airport fight!!) that I still recommend this film to everyone.  And make sure to stay for the little scene over the credits.  It's almost the best part of the film!

In early September the film is showing in a city a little closer to me, so I'll be seeing it then and I plan to add a postscript to this post if I have any new thoughts on the film!

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  1. Oh my gosh! I want to see this so badly! I really liked the book, though I don't remember much of the plot itself... Which might be a good thing going into the movie. I'm so glad to see you liked it, especially since I think you'd be harder on it than I will. :) (I'd honestly watch it just for JJ Feild and Bret McKenzie, though.)

    1. That might be a good thing actually - so you won't expect things to happen! But there is plenty of eye candy in JJ and Bret and others in this film to distract you too. :D I hope you write a review of it if you see it, I would love to know what you thought!

  2. I've been curious about this movie, but I haven't read the book. Great review!

    1. I think the book is better and of course that it is better to read it first, but the film is enjoyable either way! :)