Film review – Austenland



Title: Austenland

Director: Jerusha Hess

Starring: Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, JJ Feild

Release Date: Out Now


Adapted from Shannon Hale’s novel of the same name and produced by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, Austenland is the story of a woman who has spent so long dreaming of living in a fictional world that she forgets to live in the real one.

Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) is a middle-aged American who finds herself at 30-something still obsessed with the gentle world of Jane Austen she discovered as a child.

Unlucky in love, she blows her life’s savings on a trip to the fictional Austenland, a manor in England where characters from Austen’s novels are brought to life through actors, where she hopes to meet her very own Mr. Darcy.

Austenland proves to be a difficult place to navigate for Ms. Hayes, as she’s unsure as to what is real and what is not. This leads to an inevitable romantic confusion when she is approached by two suitors, a tough stable boy (Bret McKenzie) and a delicate aristocrat (JJ Feild).

There are a number of positives to the movie; above all, the setting and the costume design are impeccable. While watching, one truly does feel like they are stepping into a classic Austen novel.

Fantastic performances by James Callis as the over the top gentleman, Colonel Andrews, and JJ Feild as the dreamy Henry Nobely also add to the quintessentially romantic atmosphere. Also, certain scenes do inspire genuine laughter, if one embraces the outrageousness of the entire film.

That being said, the colourful romcom aspect of the film fails to carry the plot. While it’s okay for the plot to be unrealistic, as per the setting, there’s no excuse for the sheer amount of clichés that are at work here. The love triangle that inevitably forms towards the end of the film has been done a million times before and is overly predictable.

Unfortunately, composer Ilan Eshkeri’s score is standard at best. Often, a film’s score can make a movie, but nothing special is on offer here. But this is not the biggest issue, as the female leads are woefully poor.

Keri Russell seems unfit for the role she plays. Despite most recently sharpening her comedic skills with a starring role in sitcom 2 Broke Girls, Jennifer Coolidge’s performance is thoroughly sub-par.

As far as romantic comedies go, Austenland is well below average. Riddled with forced wit and clichéd scenes, the film provides a rare chuckle here and there, but not much more than that. Good performances from James Callis and JJ Feild make the movie’s 90 minute run time bearable, but for the most part Austenland is entirely missable.

In a Nutshell: A standard issue romantic comedy that’s not nearly as charming as it thinks it is.