... or, There's something about Jane.... The film's actual title: The Jane Austen Book Club, a pleasant Saturday afternoon's diversion for the Weaver and me(even if the ticket-seller gave us "senior" admission prices seven years too early, but what the heck! I'll swallow a little pride for four bucks... ) The film concerns five women and one fish-out-of water man who form a book club which only reads Jane Austen while undergoing Austenesque life-dramas themselves. The plot's premise is a bit thin (a computer nerd is recruited to facilitate the boosting of the self-esteem of a woman whose 20+ year marriage has just been shattered) but it is only an excuse to set the whole thing in motion. This movie has a great ensemble cast; if at times the screenplay seems a bit shaky the characterizations are solid and consistently note-perfect.
But this is not a review.
Rather, what is it that makes these kind of movies compelling to me? No car crashes or explosions or gunshots certainly helps (Jane Austen's Deadly Persuasion II - its payback time!); there is a quickly reached limit for that kind of violence-porn on my part. I've seen more than a few "Chick Flicks" (Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, The Women, most of the recent Austen-based films), and I find that the "secret" lives of women (which are really more about subtlety than secrecy) and the way women interact and deal with each other and the opposite sex endlessly fascinating. If I'm the only man in the theater, so be it. It is a shame to cut off half the human experience, especially in literature and the arts.
The ending of Book Club was a bit weak- happiness for everybody, a bit too tidy especially in light of how the club itself made a point of stressing how "messy" love was, and how Jane Austen herself never fully consummated a relationship. But, also like the end of Austen's novels, the "ever-after" part is not shown, only the "happy."