There will always be a special place in my heart for Keri Russell ever since her four-year stint as Felicity Porter in J.J. Abrams’ Felicity. She beams on-screen and has a sweet nature that comes off as genuine and sincere. She carried this personality over into “Waitress” and we see it again here in “Austenland” starring as unlucky-in-love Jane.
Jane is a modern day gal who lives in the romance of Jane Austen novels and she isn’t the only one as there is a marketed hotel experience dubbed “Austenland” where guests are taken back in time and wooed by the Darcys of the acting world.
She quickly befriends kooky Miss Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge) as they arrive at the Austenland estate. Since Jane didn’t buy the highest paid package, she already has one strike against her by hostess Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour) and constantly comes up short when trying to enjoy the experience. Jane is in love with the romance of Austenland, but quickly realizes that all day knitting and the dowdy dresses she is given isn’t exactly her cup of tea.
Fortunately for her she meets a helping hand on the property, finding a real crush outside of her fairytale world in Martin (Bret McKenzie). As she meets the other Austenland gentleman, including the brooding Mr. Nobley (JJ Feild), her vision of love starts to become clouded as she tries to determine what is real and what is make believe. You can take the girl out of the modern dating world, but you can't take the modern dating world out of the girl.
Keri Russell was the perfect fit for this role. Her vibrant personality makes her lovable and even though most of the movie is eye-rolling corny, it’s also a bit charming with all its quirks. This is thanks to her. It’s an odd film that is truly predictable, but it entertained nonetheless. What made the movie experience even better for this screening was that there were ladies from the Jane Austen Society of San Diego at the film dressed in costume. Whether it's on screen or in the seat next to you in the theatre, it's nice to see people with that kind of passion.
Final words: Sweet, syrupy, but mostly watchable due to Keri Russell.