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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Austenland

USA 2013
Starts October 17, 2013

Directed by: Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale
Writing credits: Jerusha Hess, based on the novel by Shannon Hale
Cast: Keri Russell, J.J. Field, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Collidge, James Callis, Georgia King, Robert Vansittart, Ricky Whittle, Jane Seymour
Length: 97 minutes

AustenlandZounds, but this is a gloriously silly movie which methinks thee may enjoy.

Modern Miss Jane Hayes (Russell) uses up all her saving to visit a Jane Austen theme park somewhere in England. At the airport in London she meets delightfully vulgar Miss Elizabeth Charming (Coolide) and together they are driven in a vintage car to a cottage which looks very like Jane Austen’s own home in Chawton, Hampshire. At the cottage they are welcomed by Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Seymour) who owns the theme park and who explains the rules of their visit to her guests before they are taken to the main house.

In Austenland everyone pretends to live in Regency times and they are immersed in the life and customs of Jane Austen’s day. Money and class distinction play their parts, so wealthy Miss Charming is a “platinum” guest with the appropriate trappings of very elaborate costumes to wear and a splendid bedroom to sleep in. Jane, who unwittingly paid less, is a “copper” guest and must make do with a servant’s bedroom and plain-Jane dresses.

Both women meet glamour puss Lady Amelia Heartwright (King) at dinner on their first night. They are also introduced to Mr. Wattlesbrook (Vansittart), Mr. Henry Nobley (Field) and Colonel Andrews (Callis). Later in the week exotic Captain George East (Whittle) arrives, fresh from his adventures in the West Indies.

Jane and Henry’s first meeting is full of misunderstandings and they part on bad terms, jut as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy do in Pride and Prejudice. Jane finds solace in talking to Martin (McKenzie) who soon wins her confidence. All is not as it seems because the men are actors at the theme park and are paid to play their parts for the guests. Despite this, Jane soon finds herself falling for…guess who?

Jane Austen fans will enjoy the references to her characters and plot in the film. The writer and director both know Miss Austen’s work and together they have carefully brought to life the essence of her novels and the time in which she lived. The plot, humour and music, however, are decidedly twenty-first century and the contrast between the times enhances the movie and stops it from being a costume drama. It also means that that it can be enjoyed and appreciated by an audience of today.

So, dear Ladies, prithee request forthwith that your Beaux harness the horses, drive around the carriages and gallop to the nearest movie palace so that you may delight in this amusing romp. Remember to loosen your stays before settling in your seats in order to facilitate all the laughing which will occur as you partake of this delightful nonsense. ()

 




A Sundance film that is really funny! Austenland is a film for the girls. A breath of fresh air from the typical heavy thematic genre associated with the Independent film scene.  Delightfully comedic! Hilariously daring!

Based on the novel by Shannon Hale (who also co-wrote the script), the film was written and directed by Jerusha Hess (writer, Napoleon Dynamite) and produced by Stephenie Meyer’s Fickle Fish Films. Bonnets off to the filmmakers for going after this story from Hale. Their "girlishly" film celebrates fun with literature when the imagination is put to the test. What more could an all-star cast want or need to add to their filmography recognition? The film features actors Keri Russell, Bret McKenzie, Georgia King, Jane Seymour, JJ Field and Jennifer Coolidge.

The adorably sweet, thirty-something, young professional Jane Hayes (Russell) consumes her extra-curricular activities with an obsession of all things Jane Austen. Her life-size poster of Mr. Darcy greets her each day in her apartment that she has decorated in the era only the characters in Jane Austen's novels would have lived. Mr. Darcy's silent  presence is her hope that even in the modern world she will find the man of her dreams who  also holds to everything good about the English and their old world customs--especially the romantics of true love.

Hayes decides to take a trip to England for the vacation of her dreams. Hayes' friends work hard to keep her in a reality-check but this time they are worried. To pacify their concerns of her eccentricity, Hayes convinces them that a trip to the English countryside will cure her obsession. Her friends are thrilled until they find out she is spending her life savings on the trip to this English country-side resort that caters to women who fantasize about being one of Jane Austen's female heroines. Warned that her idea is a disaster waiting to happen, but  unheeded by Hayes in her naivety, off she goes to be immersed into a life of old-world charm for a solid week that includes appropriate costuming and accommodations.

Hayes is picked up at the train station in full turn-of-the century fashion---a horse drawn carriage. Her first stop is to meet with the proprietor of the British Estate, Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Seymour) before Hayes' extended stay begins with Mr. Henry Nobley (Field), Miss Elizabeth Charming (Coolidge), Martin (McKenzie), Lady Amelia Heartwright (King), and Colonel Andrews (Callis).

Saddened by the news that her life savings does not buy her status of what she had dreamed in the world of Jane Austen, Hayes relinquishes her dreams and expectations to take her place among a more lowly social standing. But, not without a fight and Hayes' Austenland comes alive! Let the comedy of errors begin!

Words from the director Jersuha Hess, "Austenland was as girlishly indulgent to make as I hope it is for you to watch. Enjoy." Plan for a girls-night-out! You will not be disappointed.

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