Jane Hayes's (Keri Russell) adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset and needlepoint, Jane strives to avoid spinsterhood... but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life - and maybe even love - begins.
I understand the love that Jane Austen has achieved over the years, her books are oddly timeless despite the dense nature of the language and while some of it might seem a tad old hat these days there is still an elegance to it all. Austenland tries to persuade you that a complete addiction to Austen is normal and while my father loves the books enough to reread them each year I don’t think he's going to go out and buy tickets to this drivel.
Austenland follows Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), a woman deeply obsessed with the world of Jane Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice as she decides to travel to a Austen theme park called Austenland to find her own little piece of happiness and while the park seems to provide everything she is looking for it isn’t quite the place to go and expect the things that she expects as she tries to find her Mr Darcy
It’s films like Austenland that have the tendency to make you physically ill while it pretends to be wholesome romantic fare. The whole story rings of desperation, not only Jane’s own desperation but the desperation of a writer who thought this premise could be anything other than insulting. The whole film gifts longtime Austen fans to a few easter eggs and everyone else is told to sit and wait until something happens, fortunately nothing really does as Jane goes on an ‘adventure’ thats main characteristic is her gawking at a load of men and making a fool out of herself, it’s a laugh riot.
Unlike Waitress, Russell’s previous foray into romantic comedy Austenland lacks an identity outside its Austen loving script and while adoration works in most romance films it seems strangely out of place in this film about overcoming the dreams we have to enjoy the life we should be living. All in all Russell is a likable enough actress to guide you through the films early moments but when the story really sinks in you will find yourself asking why you are watching this in the first place.