The Jane Austen Book Club Movie Review
A chick-lit-flick, Book Club is poorly directed by Robin Swicord from her own inconsistent adaptation of Karen Jay Fowler's novel about five women (and one coerced man) who use Austen's novels as a means to escape their broken lives. They cover one book a month, and we roll our eyes as their individual problems mirror the quandaries found in Austen's chapters.
The ladies in Swicord's cast are perfectly capable. Amy Brenneman emotionally breaks down -- then builds back up -- as Sylvia, a divorcee dealing with the uncomfortable truth that her husband (a blasé Jimmy Smits) has found a new love. Maria Bello is sweet and spunky as Jocelyn, a loner so wrapped up in her friends' relationships that she doesn't notice the good man (Hugh Dancy) interested in her. I particularly liked Emily Blunt's turn as a closed-off high school French teacher married to an oaf (Marc Blucas) but falling for one of her students.
But the actresses serve a preposterous script that cheats its material with lame coincidences and phony resolutions. Sacramento, Swicord's setting, appears so small on screen that characters keep running into each other at inopportune times. Character quarrels could be (and usually are) lifted directly from Austen's text, but what worked on the page feels bogus when applied to real life.
If you can not figure out where Book Club is going, you've never read Jane Austen -- or any novel, for that matter.
You got Lunchables on your chin.