“Austenland” is a quaint move with an interesting premise. A woman searching for herself is enthralled vacating in a place where actors and settings pretend to be straight out of the novels of Jane Austen. The concept alone makes this an intriguing film. Jennifer Coolidge brings a good sharp comedic edge as the “fish out of water” participant who is unfamiliar with Jane Austen novels.
One need not have read a Jane Austen book to be able to follow the movie. One quickly understands the settings and life styles of 18th century British society. The mixing of 21st century people in this past creates comedic relief.
The plot is not compelling. It makes it appear more that the main character needs to move on with her life than she is facing a critical crisis. What is good is the main character, in search of love, has not one but two suitors. As fantasy and reality are well mixed, viewers are often uncertain which suitor is the proper one. This interesting twist creates an interesting dilemma for both the main character and the viewer.
Several of the other characters appear too infrequently such that there is a lack of character depth presented. They serve more as a backdrop and some of their story events emerge and pass a bit quickly. One crisis emerges quickly, is not mentioned, reappears as a major threat, and then is discarded, thus adding little to the story.
This is a light, fun romantic comedy. It may not be overly realistic is demonstrating the lines between fantasy and realism. Yet it should be enjoyable to those wanting to see if a woman obsessed with a different era can find love today.