Call me a cynic if you must, but reading the back of this box I just wanted to cringe. The Whole setup seemed to scream out “FAKE” at me. It seemed to be film making by numbers. Romantic ensemble pieces are very popular, and likewise the works of Jane Austen - enduringly so. The concept to make the marketing men salivate, and reviewers like me cringe, therefore must have seemed simple to the people behind this mawkfest. Combine the two and we will have a guaranteed hit.
The plot is really very simple. Six people (five women and one man) get together once a month to read and discuss the works of Jane Austen. Each member of the group is suffering with relationship problems, and it is through the author's works that they reach understandings and solutions to the said problems.
This to me just sounds like the most obvious contrivance I have seen on a film box for many a long year, and sadly the movie leaves no cliché unturned in its attempt to reach chick-flick nirvana. To give you an idea of just how contrived this nonsense is, each member of the club's personal relationship problem perfectly mirrors one of Austen's novels. So, of course each month, one member of the group gets their “problems” solved through the “genius” of Austen.
This contrivance is bad enough, but even the worse romantic comedy can be saved if the characters are likeable and well written. Unfortunately, I spent most of this movie hoping that the characters would slowly, and one-by-one, succumb to a life-threatening disease. Sadly, this never happens. So what we are left with is a group of completely unlikeable, whiny, self-obsessed characters who did nothing but push me even further away from this appalling film.
The film even manages to bore visually as well. There is quite simply no spark in the direction here. Granted, endless scenes of people sitting around discussing fluffy works of literature are never going to be as exciting as the latest action flick, but surely some unusual camera moves, and interesting angles could have been used to enliven events. Sadly, the direction here is as about as pedestrian as it could be - and the result is purgatory for the viewer.
Sadly, this film has nothing to recommend it. It is pedestrianly directed and acted, the plot is just based on contrivance, the characters are annoying, and mere ciphers to illustrate certain Austen plot points. This is quite simply one of the most cynical attempts to cash in on certain chick lit staples I have ever seen. Very very poor.
Our Review Ethos