Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Singleton Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) is an addict. Not to the usual lures of drink or drugs - but something a whole lot more, well, novel. She is in thrall to Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. Her house is a shrine to the book and BBC adaptation, with a life-size Colin Firth Darcy standee the closest thing she has to a man in her life and her rooms filled with more Regency china than you can shake a bull at.

So when an opportunity presents itself for her to go on an English-themed holiday at the pastoral-sounding Austenland, complete with the promise of her very own happily ever after, she can't resist spending her savings on it - kill or cure and the expense be damned.

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Cut to England and she finds her investment has only been enough to afford her the copper package, a cut-rate deal that sees the austere mistress of the house (Jane Seymour) shackle her with the nom de guerre Miss Erstwhile and the servants quarters, while her fellow holidaymakers Miss Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) and Lady Amelia Heartwright (Georgia King) have the altogether more bosom-heaving platinum-level arrangement.

What ensues is a mash-up between the sort of broad comedy pastiche familiar to lovers of the Comic Strip Presents and an altogether more endearing romance - along Austen lines, of course - that genuinely leaves you rooting for Jane to find true love with either the sexy Aussie handyman (Bret McKenzie) or the aloof but dashingly old-fashioned Henry Nobley (JJ Feild, who deserves to be a better known name).

Russell brings her usual charm to the hapless Jane, while Coolidge breaks out her most outlandish 'mock-er-ney' accent for Charming, although hers is a character you will either go with completely or find a turn-off from the start. Hess's screenplay - adapted from the novel by Sharon Hale - is lot more intelligent than some of the broader comedy initially suggests, even if he does occasionally lay things on a bit thick. This is a warm-hearted pleasure for comedy romance lovers - Austen readers or not - everywhere.

Reviewed on: 16 Sep 2013
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A Pride & Prejudice obsessive goes on a kill or cure Austen-themed holiday.
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Director: Jerusha Hess

Writer: Jerusha Hess, based on the novel by Shannon Hale

Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, Georgia King, James Callis

Year: 2013

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, US


Sundance 2013

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If you like this, try:

The Jane Austen Book Club