Needless to say, when I first watched the trailer for Austenland as recommended to me by a friend of mine, I erupted into fits of excited giggles. The concept was such an accurate satire of a fangirl’s life. Enter Jane, your stereotypical Jane Austen fangirl who dreams of meeting Mr. Darcy to whisk her off into a happily ever after (frankly, I don’t quite understand this infatuation with the stoic Mr. Darcy). She goes off to spend all her savings on a regency-themed vacation, hoping to experience for herself, the ardent affections of a certain Mr. Darcy. Now, although I’m not much too keen on Austen’s works, I personally would love to stay in such a place too. When asked about why she is still single, Jane (rightly) proclaims: the reason why I’m single is because all the good men are fictional.
You can now certainly see the appeal of this movie to me. Nuff’ said.
So, what of it, then?
Only much disappointment, I’m afraid. The trailer promised many hilarious yet witty parallels with the true life of a fangirl; however, the movie’s true offerings fell short. Cringe-worthy acting and slapstick comedy aside, the characters are nothing to shout about. Jane’s character development is messy; she starts out as an idealist, but is quickly disillusioned by the pretense of the Wattlesbrook estate. Mrs. Wattlesbrook is a discriminating dictator who has no qualms about customer service as she attempts to banish Jane away from the estate. This is all based upon finding a mobile phone in Jane’s chambers. Yet, she hires an inappropriate porn star-ish ruffian to play the part of a West Indies captain. Perhaps I’m over-analysing this point – it could be the writer’s intention to parody the eeriness of Victorian landladies.
Also, Martin (the Wickham of Austenland) is amazingly douchey. I have no other words to describe how thin and unconvincing his character is in wooing Jane. He alleges that Jane is not like the other girls who were drawn to the perfect fantasy and flips out when Jane plays along with the regency actors. Honestly, I’d think if you were looking for a realist partner, you would not look for her in Austenland, the fangirl haven. [SPOILER]
Although it was later revealed that Martin is one of the Wattlesbrook actors all along, you can’t help but think how shallow Jane must have been to believe all that tosh.
However, there is one bit of the movie that demands praise in the form of: Henry Nobbly. With features so strikingly similar to Hollywood’s newest heartthrob, Tom Hiddleston, Nobbly is a surefire swoon fest. The aloof-turned-Byronic character was in my opinion, the only believable character in this movie. When he appears to Jane near the resolution of the movie with an explanation, it was actually a valid one, even in today’s modern context. It doesn’t hurt that the coat and collar of his outfit fits perfectly with his appearance.
Hmm, it seems as though I might veer off into the dangerous marshes of Mr. Darcy Swooning at this rate.
Verdict: 4.7/10 (.7 because it feels just right)