Director: Robin Swicord
Cast: Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Marc Blucas, Emily Blunt, Amy Bren-neman, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits,
Kevin Zegers, Lynn Redgrave
Run Time: 105 minutes
Rating: PG (Coarse language)
Book clubs are everywhere these days, captivating readers with the imagined lives and loves of ages past. Little wonder, then, that Jane Austen so completely entrances a modern group of friends in the sparklingly witty THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB, a Gala Presentation at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival®. In the almost two hundred years since her death, Austen has become more popular than she was during her lifetime. Her indelible characters – such as Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse – stand among the most memorable women in English literature.
Austen perfected the romantic comedy and continues to be beloved by read-ers of all ages and nationalities. So when director Robin Swicord transports Austen‘s enduring stories to the sprawling, congested urban setting of Sacramento, California, the leap in time and place seems perfectly apt. Based on the best-selling novel by Karen Joy Fowler, this joyous film por-trays six present-day friends who converge at an ―all Jane Austen all the time book club to devour Austen‘s six novels. Each woman in the group has been hurt in some way, and all are confused about love. Sylvia (Amy Brenneman, TV‘s ―Judging Amy, ―Private Practice) was left by her husband, Daniel (Jimmy Smits, TV‘s ―NYPD Blues), after thirty-two years and three kids. Her best friend, Jocelyn (Maria Bello, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING), never married and spends her days as a dog breeder. Sylvia‘s daughter, the attractive, unpredictable Allegra (Maggie Grace, TV‘s ―Lost), has a stormy relationship with her lesbian lover. Middle-aged Bernadette (Kathy Baker, COLD MOUNTAIN ALL THE KING‘S MEN) is finally embracing a more relaxed, fun-loving way of life. Prudie (Emily Blunt, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, MY SUMMER OF LOVE) has a good husband but fantasizes about sex with other men. Finally, Grigg (Hugh Dancy, EVENING), the lone male in the equation, is a sci-fi-loving computer whiz. As the book club delves into the novels one by one, the lives of its members also unfold, and parallels appear between fiction and reality. Swicord invests her characters‘ personal tales with genuine tragedy, heartache and triumph, allowing the audience to gradually bond with them. While Austen fans might get a special joy out of spotting subtle references, you don‘t have to be among the initiated to fall in love with this funny, touching gem of a film.
“An entertaining, carefully assembled piece of clockwork that imposes order on ever more complicated gender warfare.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times