Just how Austen-tatious can a hard-core “Pride and Prejudice” fan be?
That’s the geeky question posed by “Austenland,” a genial, low-key comedy set in a British vacation idyll where Jane Austen fanatics can live out their romantic fantasies. It features a likable cast, headed by the radiant Keri Russell, who plays the 30ish Jane Hayes.
Jane treasures the writings of Austen, and her apartment is outfitted with a replica of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice.”
A friend persuades Jane to get all the mania out of her system by taking a pricey vacation to Austenland, set on the grounds of a Regency-era mansion. It places the customer in an elaborate Austen experience, complete with hunting, formal dinners, needlework sessions and a ball.
Jane heads off in costume, thrumming with anticipation. She meets the wealthy, crude and far-less-Austen-savvy Elizabeth (Jennifer Coolidge), who bought the “platinum” vacation package, while Jane scrimped just to afford the basic plan.
Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour), the one-note grande dame, consigns Jane to the servants’ quarters. It’s not the world Jane imagined. But she finds herself flirting with Martin (Bret McKenzie), a shy stable hand.
“Austenland” is spirited and witty. But its biggest asset is Russell, whose easy charm and down-to-earth Everywoman quality keep us rooting for her.
— Claudia Puig, USA Today