January 16, 2008 -- This is a nice little romantic comedy, based on the book by Karen Joy Fowler, about a group of people who all share some of the same problems as characters in Jane Austen's books. They get together as a group to discuss Jane Austen's books and various romances result from the interaction of the characters and the books. I found this charming, funny and romantic. It uses familiar Jane Austen themes, characters and plot lines to explore the dynamics of modern relationships.
Characters include a couple breaking up, Sylvia and Daniel Avila (played by Amy Brenneman and Jimmy Smits, both of the “NYPD Blue” TV show), and their daughter, Allegra (Maggie Grace of the TV show “Lost”). Allegra likes high risk, extreme sports, and is also a risk-taker in matters of love. She's having her own troubles with a break up. A meddling Emma-type woman, Jocelyn (Maria Bello of “A History of Violence”), who is Sylvia's friend, avoids relationships with men. She breeds dogs at her ranch. Jocelyn invites Grigg (played by Hugh Dancy of “Evening”), an attractive, rich bachelor to join the book club as a possible friend for Sylvia. A married woman, Prudie (Emily Blunt of “My Summer of Love”) is being seriously tempted by a handsome young high school student, Trey (Kevin Zegers of “Transamerica”). Trey is a student at a school where Prudie is a French Teacher (who has never been to France). Prudie's husband, Dean (Marc Blucas of “First Daughter”) seems to lack a romantic spirit and is oblivious to his wife's emotional needs. Prudie's mother, Sky (Lynn Redgrave of “Gods and Monsters”), is no help. She's an irresponsible ex-hippie.
The book club, founded by Bernadette (Kathy Baker of “Cold Mountain”), a free-spirited woman who has been married six times, meets each month. The club convenes in a different location to discuss one of Jane Austen's six books, one for each of the club's six members. Jocelyn tries to get Grigg to date Sylvia, thinking Sylvia needs to have a fling to distract her from her impending divorce. Grigg, however, is only interested in Jocelyn. Grigg, a science fiction fan, tries to get Jocelyn interested in reading the novels of Ursula K. LeGuin, but she is too snobbish to try. Daniel Avila, who left Sylvia for a younger women, starts making excuses to drop by Sylvia's house. Sylvia, meanwhile, is learning to like being on her own after years of married life. Prudie, frustrated by Dean's lack of romance, tries to get him to read one of Jane Austen's books, hoping that will spark his spirit of romance. Eventually, most of the couples in this group find out that each of them has something to offer the other. I rate this film a B.
Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.