So I’m sure you are wondering, a review of Austenland? What about Netflix’s Persuasion? Aren’t I going to review that like everyone else?
Yes, eventually. Until I actually post a full length review go to my Twitter page and you can read my live tweet.
I’m instead reviewing Austenland as my yearly tradition (since my niece turned 12), is to watch a Jane Austen adaptation with her and post her review for my Blogiversary. This year we watched Austenland and I need to get my review out before I can post her thoughts.
Austenland the book was published in 2007. I had always been a big fan of Shannon Hale, (I LOVE Book of a Thousand Days), but as I didn’t become a Jane Austen fan until after I was sixteen I read the book a few years after it came out. The book is about a girl, Jane Hayes, who is obsessed with Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice (particularly the 1995 version) who is given the trip of a lifetime by her deceased aunt: a three week vacation in England’s very own Austenland. There she interacts with other Austenites, some Regency men, and tries to get the Austen ending she desires.
While I enjoy the book, Jane’s character did annoy me at times as she not only thinks every guy she has ever been with is her “boyfriend” (even when they haven’t even dated but just talked to them), she also blames Jane Austen for all her bad relationships instead of actually taking responsibility for her bad decisions.
The sequel came out five years later, Midnight in Austenland, and by this time I was a hardcore Jane Austen fan and immediately read it. I fell in love with it and thought it was amazing! This book follows Charlotte Kinder, recently divorced mother who is looking for a way to treat/distract herself. She goes to Austenland and tries to get her Austen ever after, but instead has a little Agatha Christie thrown in.
Then the film trailer came out for Austenland and it looked like it was to be mostly this first book, but with a few traits of the sequel that I loved. I was so excited!!!
I tracked that film and when the release dates were changed, waited. And waited. And then when it wasn’t released in any theater near me, I waited some more for it to come out on DVD.
I rented it as soon as it was out, watched it, and adored it from beginning to end! I thought it was soooo well done.
Austenland the film follows Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) who has been unlucky in love. She finally decides to take her dream vacation, to Austenland, and go after her happily ever after! But things don’t go exactly as planned. When she gets to the resort she discovers her extremely expensive trip was the basic package and is treated poorly by the proprietress Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour) and given dreary clothes and the smallest room. Determined to have fun, she tries her best but finds herself left out as the kind and hilarious Miss Elizabeth Charming (played by the wonderful comedian Jennifer Coolidge) is matched with Colonel Andrews (James Callis) and Miss Amelia Heartwright (Georgia King) has Mr. Nobley (JJ Feild). Jane feeing lonely, mistreated, and all out disappointed with her dream vacation turns to Martin (Bret Mackenzie), the gardener/stable boy/Jack of all trades/etc. The two spend as much time together as possible until they have a fight and Jane is back to square one. At this point Jane is determined to no longer be on the side but go after the main character storyline. She and Miss Charming raid Miss Heartwright’s room for nicer gowns and redo her hair. She also sets her sights on newly arrived Captain East (Ricky Whittle).
However, she finds herself spending more time with Mr. Nobley, having been forced to choose him as a partner in the theatrical. Will Jane get her happily ever after Jane Austen ending? Or will her dreams be crushed by reality?
I LOVE THIS MOVIE! I highly recommend it to any Jane Austen fan as it has everything you could want and all the things you would expect from Jane Austen’s books. There is drama, comedy, heartbreak, love, a secret connection, reveals, and a truly romantic scene that I could watch over and over again.
There were a lot of changes made to the script from the original novel and they also used some aspects of the sequel in writing this and I am 100% okay with all those decisions. Everything they did made the film better.
The set was gorgeous! After reading the book I desperately wanted to go to Austenland and watching this, it’s perfect. A gorgeous house, beautiful grounds I would love to roam through, wildflowers to throw yourself in, a gorgeous area for teatime, etc. I absolutely love it!
Absolutely gorgeous and ones that make you want them. They did such a great job giving Jane plain and dowdy outfits for the beginning, and then absolutely drop dread gorgeous ones when she steals Amelia’s. (And yes Amelia does notice, although it takes a while).
The music is phenomenal and there were quite a few written just for it by Emmy the Great. I plan to one day do a post just on that. Most of the songs I used when I had my birthday party last year, and almost all are available on Amazon Music.
On to the acting! This has a small cast, but they do absolutely wonderful with the production.
Rupert Vansittart as Mr. Wattlesbrook
Mr. Wattlesbrook is a small role but his character is one that you hate as he is drunk, leecherous, and attacks Jane. Vansittart did a great job making you hate him from shot one, although it wasn’t too difficult for him as he played a similar character in Pride and Prejudice (1995) as Mr. Hurst (Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law).
Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook
Mrs. Wattlesbrook is our villain of the story and Seymour does a wonderful job being rude, demoralizing, and the perfect perpetrator of the cruel treatment she gives to Jane. You absolutely love to hate her.
Ricky Whittle as Captain East
Captain East had a few changes from the book. He still is a lower class man who was engaged to Amelia Heartwright, engagement broken off as her family wouldn’t allow it, and has come back a Captain with money. However, in this he is also a soap opera star and a guy who always finds a reason to take off his shirt and show off his muscles. He is hilarious, sweet, and a lovable character. Whittle was perfect at bringing charm and hilarity to the role and giving him a golden retriever like charm.
Georgia King as Lady Amelia Heartwright
Lady Amelia Heartwright arrives on the scene and becomes Jane’s rival as they appear to both be after the same men. In the original book they were friends, while in the film Lady Amelia is the Caroline Bingley. Georgia King is perfect in making you dislike her and laugh at her little eccentricities as she tries so hard to be Regency. Georgia King clearly has read or watched Pride and Prejudice as she knew exactly who she needed to be and what she needed to do.
James Callis as Colonel Andrews
Colonel Andrews is the one who has been at Austenland the longest, and as you watch you can see it as he lives this Austenland experience. Callis was an excellent choice as he is able to match Jennifer Coolidge/Miss Amelia Heartwright energy and verve; which is not an easy task. As Coolidge made up most of her own lines Callis was able to keep his all alongside her.
Bret McKenzie as Martin
McKenzie is perfect as the disingenuous, smarmy Martin. He’s so fake and false with Jane that it’s obvious to the viewer, but perfectly for the lonely, left out, naïve, and sweet Jane. He’s not the main villain, but plays his side villain perfectly. Even when he knows he’s not going to win, he tries to destroy any chance of a rival competition having happiness.
Jennifer Coolidge as Miss Elizabeth Charming
Jennifer Coolidge was an excellent choice for Miss Elizabeth Charming as she was able to elevate the character and make her one you adored and admired. As most of Jennifer Coolidge’s lines were made up on the spot, it makes it even better as each one is hilarious. The character of Miss Charming is one that knows zero about the Regency era but has money and wants this wonderful experience with handsome men-making everything about her perfect as her odd remarks show she never fully submerges into this world.
JJ Feild as Mr. Henry Nobley
Feild was a perfect casting for Nobley. Nobley needs to be the “resident” Darcy but appear to have more to him than meets the eye; something we discover at the end of the film. At first we are supposed to dislike him,As Jane does, but with every shot fall in love with him more and more. Feild has experience in being in the Austen’s world, Northanger Abbey (2007), and was just perfect. I don’t know how else to describe him, he was ultimate perfection and makes every one who watches him want their own Mr. Nobley. Just absolute perfection!
For more JJ Feild, go to Stolen Lover Leads to Murder: Death on the Nile (2004)
Keri Russell as Jane Hayes/Miss Jane Erstwhile
Jane Hayes is not an easy character, she needs to be kind, caring, sweet, naive, a romantic, etc but someone that we the viewer can relate to and root for. Keri Russell is a great actress and relatability is something she does extremely well in everything she has been in. Just perfect casting as well.
Did you know Keri Russell is actually married to Mr. Darcy? Not only did she get to live out our Austenland fantasies, but is married to Matthew Rhys, Mr. Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley.
For more Keri Russell, go to You Are My Fantasy: Austenland (2013)
I love this film. I just love it so much. The writing is amazing, the actors and actresses. I could watch it over and over again.
For more Austenland (2013), go to You Are My Fantasy: Austenland (2013)
For more Austenland, go to Midnight in Austenland
For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)