Explores Austen's adage that general incivility is at love's essence. Sylvia's husband dumps her for another woman, so Bernadette and Jocelyn organize a book club to distract her. They recruit Sylvia's daughter Allegra; Prudie, a young teacher whose marriage may be on the rocks; and Grigg, a sci-fi fan who joins out of attraction to Jocelyn. The six read and discuss one Austen novel per month. Jocelyn tries to interest Grigg in Sylvia; Allegra falls in love with a woman she meets skydiving; Prudie contemplates an affair with a student; Sylvia's ex keeps popping up. In the discussions, characters reveal themselves in their comments. By the end, are truths universally acknowledged?Written by
After the first meeting at Starbucks, Prudie is on the far right. When Grigg explains where he lives, Prudie is closer to the group and her face obscured. When Grigg leaves and it goes back to the group, Prudie is on the far right again. See more »
I have never read Jane Austin. Although I did have a senior Librarian at the British Library, where I am a "registered" scholar-reader, crack a funny and original joke about her to me once. The joke was slow, off-the-cuff (he made it up on the spot), and so droll in the way he told it "au naturel" and spontaneous. HE probably was chortling for the rest of the day. For him it probably was the height of hilarity. I was impressed, and charmed, even though the joke itself was pretty mild. Much like this movie.
The modern day Jane Austen book club members act out love lives and turmoil (and triumphs) very much in parallel with a Jane Austin book, as I understand their plots to be (I have seen them all in movies, but never in print). This reminded me of Shakespeare in Love, where the modern writers performed a brilliant art that went beyond mere parroting or mimicry. I suspect a Jane Austen reader/fan would recognize much, and see in-jokes and intelligent references that I missed. But, I think it is saying something good about the movie to note that I learned something about Austin's books, but also followed the plot, was thoroughly entertained and interested throughout, and felt a involved with what happened. Again, I'm not part of the Austin cognoscenti, but I at least felt "in on the jokes" and in on the plot as well. I was included by the movie.
Some of the plot points veered toward the girlie for a moment, but never completely went off down that road. That is, with the chatty older lady Kathy Baker's character initially showing contempt for men, and hints of a lesbian theme, at first I was ready for a rant. Or at least a put-down of males, like the last 10 minutes of "Steel Magnolias." But everybody lightened up, and basically respect and affection was shown to all, ultimately. Although, returning for a moment to the lesbian thing, I did not for one minute actually buy that the daughter, Allegra, was gay--- not that there would be anything wrong with that (note the Seinfeld reference). But as a comment on the movie, on the narrative and the portrayals, it just didn't FEEL real or true. Not even "movie true." But the actors were competent and otherwise convincing, all around, so I found myself able to dismiss that dissonant note with relative ease.
If you are a guy, don't be afraid of this movie. It's pleasant, and about real-enough things that concern us, too. After all, for most of us, relationships involve men and women, so here's something that is a bit about both, but the perspective is nonetheless clearly from the distaff side, which intrigued me. I enjoyed it! BTW--- I went to a special "art series" showing at the cinema where I am visiting. I went alone. Throughout the movie, however, I could hear many female voices laughing, and seemingly chuckling with agreement when certain truths and characters' foibles were brought to light--- and never in a mean way. So maybe it rings true for the ladies as well.
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