Director: Jerusha Hess
Key Actors: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Jane Hayes is a woman in love with Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy. She loves Austen everything, but can’t get past the possibility of her own Darcy. Jane buys a vacation to Austenland, a place where vacationers live in the regency era (clothing and all), complete with Austen-esque romance. During her stay, Jane has her share of romance but realizes that fiction can never replace what is real.
Overall Rating: 4 stars
Austenland is utterly wonderful. It is funny, it is cheesy, it is unbelievable in that oh-so-believable kind of way. Jennifer Coolidge is the Queen of Hilarity. It really touches the heartstrings of those many readers who have had an inexplicable connection to book characters, whether it’s a major crush on Mr. Darcy or any other kind of relationship you can have with fictional characters. Readers get it. And because it is a film adaptation by a Shannon Hale novel (Shannon Hale even helped with the screenplay!) it is bound to be a good story with fair treatment of women.
Bechdel: Considering the author of the original story has frequently written about equal representation of both genders in stories, it would be a surprising travesty if Austenland didn’t pass the Bechdel test. Luckily, no surprises here. Not only did Austenland have two female characters with names who spoke to each other about something besides men, it had at least four female characters with names and at least four male characters with names. All conversed about a variety of topics, and the women weren’t relegated to only discuss men, which considering the subject matter is an amazing feat in film today. Basically, Shannon Hale and Jerusha Hess rock my world.
The only critique I had about this film is that there were a few mild instances of male objectification. Male or female, objectification isn’t cool. But, on the other hand, any men who watch this movie and don’t like what they see in that regard will know what women deal with (and on a much greater extreme) whenever we watch a movie.
In some ways, it was actually quite interesting. Obviously, objectification=bad. But it was presented in such an absolutely ridiculous fashion, you couldn’t take it too seriously. However, if the roles had been reversed (female objectification instead of male), most likely it would have been presented in a socially approved sexy manner, a far cry from ridiculous. I might be reaching here, but it sort of opens up the discussion of parody and irony.