Reasons Why “The Jane Austen Book Club” is Unbearable to Jane Austen Fans

Reasons Why “The Jane Austen Book Club” is Unbearable to Jane Austen Fans

credit: The Jane Austen Book Club

If you belong to the vast amount of dedicated Jane Austen Fans, then you probably have heard of the movie “The Jane Austen Book Club” that came out in 2007, and you were potentially drawn in by the concept. Perhaps you even thought of creating such a book club for your own friends’ group?

This is beside the point; I am here to talk about the movie’s execution of said concept and why it was a cute idea but failed miserably in its implementation. I may even warn a couple of you who haven’t seen the film that it butchers Jane Austen a little too much and trivializes her novels.

Here are five reasons you can quickly look away when this movie comes on, ESPECIALLY as an Austen fan.


Focusing on Austen’s major works

While it may seem easily understandable why the group of six people discussing Austen’s novels focus on her six major works, “Sense and Sensibility,” “Emma,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park,” “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion,” it suggests to the audience that these are the only Jane Austen books that matter. 

Meanwhile, Austen’s other novels or scripts such as “Lady Susan” or her poems and letters, are left out to connect the books with the six characters in the film. 

Austen and her novels are the characters’ agony aunt

The point of this movie is that Austen helps the characters find solace in their troubled love lives. 

While each of the six characters deals with their partners or lack thereof and issues with self, Austen becomes an agony aunt, and her books guide how to solve the love issues.

But how their lives intersect with the stories of the books reeks of taxed contrivance and makes me feel genuinely sick. It’s just too forced and unrealistic, for that matter. 

Reasons Why “The Jane Austen Book Club” is Unbearable to Jane Austen Fans

credit: The Jane Austen Book Club

The idea behind the film 

The idea of a “Jane Austen Book Club” based on Jane’s books could have been an absolute winner. Unfortunately, this was not the case. I found the characters and their storylines insanely lame and predictable. Everything was set out before watching the film; maybe that is because I know Austen’s books, but come on. A little bit of suspense couldn’t have hurt the plot of this incredibly blatantly obvious film. Very uninspiring execution as well; a scripting committee’s hovering hand was evident throughout the entire film. 

This made the authenticity of the story suffer highly.



The Characters

Five middle-class (partially middle-aged, too) women and a younger Sci-Fi dude, one of them picked up at a work meeting, are the protagonists of this story. 

The most unrealistic character probably has to be Jocelyn (Maria Bello), as she was this super selfless (and manless) woman who always put others first, especially her best friend Sylvia (Amy Brenneman). While this may be relatable for many people, I do not think the extent and lengths her character went to are realistic for anyone. Jocelyn even tries to pair Sylvia up with the only guy in their reading circle who is blatantly obvious with his feelings toward her.

It’s almost as if Jocelyn tries to avert all happiness and future luck from herself. At the same time, Sylvia is just interested in getting her cheating husband back but happily plays along in Jocelyn’s master plans. The woman who organized the book club, Bernadette (Kathy Baker) is just the six-timed divorced foxy older woman, that supports everyone with wise advice. Sylvia’s daughter Allegra, who also joins the club, constitutes the token lesbian, I guess to divert from the potential assumption that women’s lives revolve around men and love.

Reasons Why “The Jane Austen Book Club” is Unbearable to Jane Austen Fans

credit: The Jane Austen Book Club

Their weird decisions

Then there are also questionable decisions by some of the characters; the prime example is Prudie (Emily Blunt), who is unhappy with her marriage and thinks flirting with a senior from the high school she teaches at, is an appealing form of change from her boring husband. But then she still ends up reconciling with her boring husband, who honestly seemed the opposite in character to her. Make it make sense. Evidently, the man in the group, Grigg (Hugh Dancy), is kind of cute and interested in Jocelyn but then never makes an obvious move, hence is strung along most of the time in Jocelyn’s matchmaking ideas with Sylvia. Geez, do something, man?


The acting and a rushed ending- for what?


The acting is flat and implausible. I think it speaks volumes when I expect more of this cast, including Emily Blunt and Kathy Baker, amongst other famous names. Also, the ending felt rushed when the entire movie dragged along for most of its time. At best, it makes you want to read the actual books and process the stories themselves.


So, for the love of books that Austen has published and successful movies released, please do refer to actual movie adaptations of Jane Austen’s works, like the 2005 film “Pride and Prejudice” based on Austen’s novel, starring Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, and Matthew Macfadyen. That film is worth every second of swooning and pining.


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