“If you were a woman, all I'd have to say is 'Colin Firth in a wet shirt' and you'd say 'Ah.”
- Austenland by Shannon Hale.
Based off the beloved young adult book by childrens writer and stay-at-home Mormon-housewife Shannon Hale, Austenland is a story of a young woman with an addiction to something she has yet to experience for herself. This obsession is primarily focused on Jane Austen and her band of romantic caricatures. Varying only slightly from the book, thirty-something Jane Hayes has practically worshiped the popular words of revered romance writer Jane Austen since she first had a taste of Pride and Prejudice in her youth. It seemed that nothing would ever happen to plain-Jane until she decided to take things into her own hands. She immersed herself into Austenland, a place where die-hard enthusiasts can submerse themselves fully in the land that Austen created with her words of never ending passion and true love. There she discovers some surprising facts about herself, the people around her and most importantly, about the delightful Jane Austen, all the while finding the perfect Austen ending that every woman desires, whether she knows it or not.
My personal feelings towards this film are full of love and nerdy fan girl excitement. After reading the book for the first time at age fifteen, I knew that it was the kind of writing I wanted to get into when I grew up. So when I found out they were making film based on those highly entertaining words, and that it was to be directed by Jerusha Hess and starring Keri Russell, JJ Field, Bret Mckenzie and the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge, you can imagine my excitement. Not only was this movie the perfect pick-me-up for someone like me, but watching the film was so much fun because it was just so lovely to look at. Some of the best things I noticed about this movie were definitely the design, lighting and cinematography. Not to say the acting wasn’t awesome, but as you could probably tell, this was just a fun movie to make for all the actors involved, so it was obviously not a venture to act these characters out.
The design of the film, especially involving the colors, was very soft and obviously girly. I just felt like the design crew of this film had so much fun creating feminine and fun sets for scenes. Seeing as the main sets for this film were Jane’s apartment and the Austenland mansion, the detail in both sets are very rich in sparkle and period piece decorum. One of my personal favorite sets was Jane’s bedroom, an area which resembled a little girls bedroom, bright and cheery and full of little trinkets, with the colorful words “Darcy Was Here” hung above her bed.
The lighting in this movie greatly contributed to the feeling of euphoria and lightheadedness that I could just image Jane was feeling during her stay at the fictitious Austenland. During one of the scenes where Jane is floating down the river with Martin, a servant boy played by the fantastic Bret Mckenzie (one half of the famous New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords), the lighting creates a feeling of easygoing happiness. You can tell that they took care to use as much natural light as possible and in creating the feel of a rom-com used plenty of soft light to coincide with the even softer colors.
And lastly, the cinematography of this movie deserves a great big thumbs up. Even though it was a low budget film and wasn’t likely to hit any big theaters, the idea that everyone in this movie gave their all for the sake of the book and just the overall fun of the movie makes it a favorite of mine. It’s nice to know that other people can care as much for the story as I did when I first read it. Together with the detail of the sets, costumes, lighting and camera shots, the movie just added up to be not only something to laugh at and enjoy immensely, but to watch over and over again simply to enjoy the cinematography.
Overall, I give this movie a five out of five in that it fulfilled all of my requirement for a good movie. And, how can you say no to JJ Field’s adorable face? Now that’s just not possible.