Keri Russell's latest flick, "Austenland," opened in some American movie theaters on August 16, 2013, and it's scheduled to hit British movie theaters at the end of September 2013. This delightful film is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Shannon Hale. The film is directed by Jerusha Hess, and although this was Hess's directorial debut, she has done an incredibly competent job. Under her direction, Russell portrays one of the most impressive roles of her career thus far, a young woman named Jane Hayes.
Obsessed with Jane Austen and imaginary romances, Ms. Hayes is saddled with a love life punctuated by disaster. Sadly, she sees no link between her lackluster love life and the fact that she is secretly in love with a cardboard cutout of Colin Firth dressed as Mr. Darcy, the dashing love interest of her favorite novel "Sense and Sensibility." Seemingly on the prowl solely for men who are unattainable, Ms. Hayes is reminiscent of Bridget Jones. Desperate for love, Ms. Hayes ultimately heads to a theme park for women who love Jane Austen and her novels. There, they can pick from a wide selection of men who are supposed to be just like the dashing Mr. Darcy.
Once at the theme park, the film takes a comedic turn, and Russell has the chance to show audiences that she is a fun-loving, as well as a serious, actress. Russell's latest notable role was as a KGB agent in the TV series "The Americans." In that role, she played a relatively serious spy, and her Jane Hayes character is almost a 180-degree turn from that role. Her joviality and youthfulness may even remind audiences of her previous longtime role as young Felicity on the TV series "Felicity."
Russell shines in a series of comedic scenes that are almost slapstick in nature, and her acting leaves the audience rolling in the aisles. Whether Russell is involved in a sewing circle or chasing one of the many Mr. Darcys who populate the theme park, her acting is amusing, charming, and clever. Ultimately, her character must choose between a beautiful stable boy and a moody actor. Her inability to make a decision between the two is emotionally palpable to the audience and highlights her strengths as a serious actress.
In this movie, she is working alongside Jennifer Coolidge, a comedic genius who is best known for her roles in comedies such as "Best in Show" and "American Pie," as well as many other talented actors. Even next to Coolidge, a master of satire, Russell manages to impress her audiences. Another star of "Austenland" is the inimitable Jane Seymour. This respected actress plays the matron of the theme park, and her acting, as would be expected, is virtually flawless. However, Russell manages to hold her own even next to this star, and she even manages to dominate a few of their scenes together.
Russell's acting is not the only thing that has her fans excited about "Austenland." Just before "Austenland" began filming, Russell told the producers that she was pregnant. Her baby bump was growing as the film was being shot, and her changing shape forced the costume designers to be a bit creative as they worked hard to hide the growing bump. However, there was one bit of her shape that no one wanted to hide, and that was her growing bosom. In fact, the costume designers embraced her increased chest size, at least figuratively.
According to Russell, her voluptuous figure really made her look amazing. Her bust was certainly on display when her character donned the Regency-era costumes that were prominent in Austen's lifetime. Now that her baby is nineteen months old, Russell looks back on her "Austenland" figure with some regret about the loss of her enhanced chest. Although she's happy without the baby bump, she admits missing her voluptuous figure.
From modern day America to an old fashioned theme park, Keri Russell shines in this film, proving to audiences that she can be as funny as she is serious.