The Jane Austen Book Club
Here’s one of those acting bonanza movies with a cast of some of the best actresses working today, and a script from a popular novel. Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker (who I persist in mistaking for Kathy Bates when I see the name), Amy Brenneman, some new young ladies, plus Jimmy Smits and Hugh Dancy. The idea is a good one. Five women and one man gather once a month to discuss a Jane Austen book, of which there were only six. Each of the characters is based on an Austen character, and the plots of the books can be seen, by the characters, as having something to say about their own lives. So veiled comments can be made by one reader against another, by ostensibly discussing the book.
Do you have to know Jane Austen to enjoy this movie? It would probably enhance it, but I’ve never read Austen in my life, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
One nice touch: Dancy, who is a lot younger, has fallen for Bello, but can’t quite bring himself to tell her. She avoids commitments; he tells her that’s why she raises dogs, because she wants to be obeyed. He is an SF fan, and she is contemptuous of all the “spaceships and aliens” stuff. He tries to get her to read some SF that is more concerned with character than outer space, and recommends our friend Ursula Le Guin! She keeps saying she’ll get around to it one of these days. Finally, near the end, she picks one up, and spends the whole night reading it, and others, and can’t wait to get to the bookstore to pick up the next one. Way to go, Ursula!