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Explores Austen's adage that general incivility is at love's essence. Sylvia's husband dumps her for another woman, so Bernadette and Jocelyn organize a book club to distract her. They recruit Sylvia's daughter Allegra; Prudie, a young teacher whose marriage may be on the rocks; and Grigg, a sci-fi fan who joins out of attraction to Jocelyn. The six read and discuss one Austen novel per month. Jocelyn tries to interest Grigg in Sylvia; Allegra falls in love with a woman she meets skydiving; Prudie contemplates an affair with a student; Sylvia's ex keeps popping up. In the discussions, characters reveal themselves in their comments. By the end, are truths universally acknowledged? Written by
I saw this movie at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival and made a point of learning as little as possible about what it was about and who was in it. Such a refreshing way to be invited into a story.
Though this movie will never win an academy award and it's premise revolves around a well-known British author, this is a very "Hollywood" movie.
The ensemble cast is like a large-scale painting with each character portraying different colours and brush strokes. Their diversity brings perspective and depth to the story.
I loved Bernadette's (Kathy Baker) ballsy and ebullient pseudo-matriarchal figure; and I silently cheered for Jocelyn (Maria Bello) to break out of her disciplined and 'in-control' habits, but it was Emily Blunt's portrayal of Prudie that shone a light giving the sharpest and most emotional contrast of all. She, who steadfastly distanced herself from the social class she grew up in, and worked tirelessly to elevate herself "to the manor born", convinced herself, with her stylish bob, Chanel-esquire attire and fanciful forays into french phrasology, that she was beyond the mundane and ordinary. She convinced me she was both strong and fragile, and my heart broke along with hers. What a lovely performance.
This isn't high-brow film by any means. The audience's biggest challenge is listening for and extracting the many Austen quotes that get zipped and zinged throughout the film. We are ultimately drawn to watching the ever-changing relationships, like petri dishes being poked and provoked.
This movie will be enjoyable even for those unfamiliar with Jane Austen's novels. A visually appealing, emotionally satisfying, safe and somewhat predictable film. Most likely to be pegged as a chick flick because it's heavy on relationships. Guys' loss.
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