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Jane Austen Book Club
DVD disk
02.22.2008 By: Sturdy
Jane Austen Book Club order
Director:
Robin Swicord

Actors:
Maria Bello
Amy Brenneman
Jimmy Smits

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Five women come together to form a book club to discuss Jane Austenís most famous books. Through their discussions, they realize that her books relate more to their own lives than they originally thought.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This film is the attack of the former TV stars. We have a former star of every show from LOST to ER to NYPD BLUE and even a little BUFFY thrown in. Unfortunately, none of the stars in the film should have left their respective TV show because none of them have yet to match the greatness of their series. JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB is no exception and it tries too hard to achieve something itís not capable of achieving.

The point was to have each of the main characters live out a modern day telling of a particular Jane Austen novel and then relate that through a series of club meetings between the ladies. This idea might work as a book, but as a movie, it doesnít have much of a chance. For starters, we just donít have enough time to explore six different themes. Of course, in order for this to work, you must first have knowledge of all six of Austenís books because the film doesnít really get into the themes of the books. Thereís not enough time for the film to explain the plot lines, so it assumes you already know the books.

However, even if youíre a Jane Austen expert, the film still struggles to tell the story. With so many characters and such a short runtime, it just ran out of time. I didnít find any of the characters very likable, but to be honest, I didnít really know enough about any of the characters to begin liking them. From what I did know of the characters, they seemed shallow and uninteresting. All of the relationships seemed forced and thrown together to the point I didnít care whether or not anyone got together, or back together as the case may be.

Donít underestimate how important it is to have a familiarity with Jane Austenís books when watching this film. The whole point of the film is the correlation between the real charactersí lives and the books theyíre reading. With that kind of pre-requisite coming into the film, it has already cut out a very niche market. This is definitely a film that targets the female audience, but more than that, it targets females that like Jane Austen. If that applies to you, then you may get more out of this film than I did.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Maggie Grace, Julie Lynn, Hugh Dancey, Mary Anne Brandon, Robin Swicord: All of these people are in the same room, which gets confusing at times because itís hard to keep everyone separated, except for Hugh. However, they do a good job of staying on subject, which is difficult with so many people. It seems like everyone is having a good time and that rubs off on the listener. Overall, thereís a lot of good information and itís an easy listen.

Behind the Scenes (18:48): This is a fluff piece to promote the film. There are a lot of interviews with the cast and crew and of course, all of them love the movie. It doesnít offer much information in how the film was made and keeps the discussions superficial.

Life of Jane Austen (21:31): This is one of the few featurettes that I would actually recommend you watch before the film. Itís a good, quick recap of the life of Jane Austen. Or, you could watch the movie BECOMING JANE, which does the same thing. Either way, this was a good featurette.

Deleted Scenes (6:49): Nothing too exciting here. More lesbian scenes if youíre into that kind of thing. A lot of these scenes are extended scenes and not deleted scenes. At the end of the day, all of them deserved to be cut.

Book Club Deconstructed (11:42): This is an attempt to explain how each character relates to a Jane Austen book. Itís a good attempt, but this really needed more attention since itís the point of the film. I would have liked to see more time devoted to explaining the book and then explaining how thatís relevant to the story. Since I didnít get that, this was better than nothing.

Walking the Red Carpet (2:43): Just a quick glimpse at the LA premiere. Nothing special.

There are also some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you love Jane Austen, you might enjoy this film, but all others need to beware. The film has long reaching goals, but ultimately falls short of what itís trying to accomplish.
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