A film parents can bring their teens to….after a discussion of unrealistic romantic expectations! AUSTENLAND is a charming piece of fluff from first time director/co-writer, Jerusha Hess (she also co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite). As if to make the anti-feminist message less offensive, the film is set in the late 70’s– a young woman pines for life in a Jane Austen novel. Keri Russell brings such a sweetness to the role that it makes me want to see Waitress (2007) again and maybe check out the new television series, The Americans.
This film suffers from a serious case of waffling tone. Is it a comedy poking fun at the frivolous, misguided women who believe that fantasy trumps reality? Are we meant to feel that this young woman who dreams of romance and has memorized entire Jane Austen chapters, deserves to find true love after suffering at the whims of the cruel mistress of Austenland (played with relish by Jane Seymour)? Sadly, the film tries to have it both ways: pretend to show the banal truth behind the fantasy while also serving up a large romantic bon bon. But even on a lovely lace-dolly-lined plate with a good cup of proper tea; this bon bon is too sweet.
Rating: 1 cup of British tea