Lovers of Jane Austen will be giddy with excitement at the prospect of Austenland, as its plot centres around the ultimate desire of any Austen fan – to immerse oneself, quite literally, in the author’s most beloved novel.
A young woman named Jane Haynes (Keri Russell) is obsessed with the novel Pride and Prejudice, to the extent that it has had an sabotaged her love life. In an attempt to recover from her recent heartbreak, she decides to spend her life savings on a trip to a ‘theme park’, known as Austenland, which is run by a Mrs Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour). As the name suggests, this theme park caters to those who wish to lose themselves in an authentic Regency period experience, complete with costumes, social class distinctions (and other manner of aristocratic activities) with the goal of making guests feel as though they have stepped into one of Austen’s novels. It even guarantees guests a romantic interlude! Whilst there, Jane meets a kindred spirit in Miss Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) who is also in search of a bit of romance, as well as the aloof Mr Nobley (JJ Field) and the charming Martin (Bret McKenzie). And as with the heroine of her beloved novel, Jane is quickly caught between the love of two men.
If you have read Pride and Prejudice, you will easily recognise the similarities between some of the characters and their on-screen counterparts. While this makes the outcome of the film a bit predictable, you cannot help but feel enamoured of the fairy tale that Austenland tries to weave.
Keri Russell portrays an excellent girl-next-door character who only wants to find her Mr Darcy and makes the audience hope so too. Jennifer Coolidge is the ditzy blonde at her best and provides many of the laugh-out -loud moments in the film. The two main male leads, Field and McKenzie, give solid performances and provide some eye candy to boot.
If you are looking for a great film to watch on your next girl’s night out or just love Jane Austen, then I would recommend Austenland. However, if you don’t fall into either of these categories, then the film will definitely not be your cup of tea.