Friday, February 21, 2014

"Austenland" (2013)

“Austenland” almost manages to deliver the perfect commentary to its target audience. Almost, but it chickens out in the end.

Jane is a woman held prisoner to her own romantic ideals (read: illusions). She has been obsessed with the world of Jane Austen’s books her whole life. She watches the adaptations and memorizes the texts. She wants more than anything in the world to meet her own Mr. Darcy but her problem is she can’t begin to meet him because she can’t interact with any real men. She is too obsessed with the lie of romantic perfection she finds in fiction.

Then one day, fed up with her reality, she takes the plunge into total fantasy and books a getaway at Austenland. As her week there progresses, she comes to the realization that the fantasy is not quite the dream she had envisioned it being. While it does prove fun interacting with the Austenland version of Mr. Darcy, there IS another man perfectly suited for her at the hotel. Instead of an actor, though, he is a hired hand working behind the scenes at the themed hotel. By the end of the week, she comes to the conclusion that she really does want to find a real relationship and stop living in the unfulfilling and unsustainable romance.

This film is a romantic comedy that sets out to expose the lie of romantic comedies. It holds a mirror up to its audience and exposes the dangers of their escapist fantasies. However, in the final moments it loses its determination and becomes the same sort of implausible lie that all these stories end up being. So, enjoy it for the mindless entertainment it offers, but don’t buy into the standard it is selling.

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