The Jane Austen Book Club

(2007) *** 1/2 Pg-13
106 min. Sony Pictures Classics. Director: Robin Swicord. Cast: Maria Bello, Jimmy Smits, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman.
Writer-director Robin Swicord's surprisingly effective adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's chick-lit novel The Jane Austen Book Club proves to be a delightful romantic comedy that (gasp) even men can enjoy. The winning ensemble—including Emily Blunt, Maria Bello, Maggie Grace, Hugh Dancy, Kathy Baker, Jimmy Smits, and Amy Brenneman—comprise a circle of friends and lovers who learn life lessons from the canon of Austen novels. Heartbreak leads to emotional crises (turned funny by neurotic lines like "My body will become a museum"), farcical complications, and new romantic opportunities. Swicord's natural conversations and literary chops give the picture the rollicking bonhomie of an actual book club, with a special emphasis on women's anxieties, hopes, and fantasies.
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