Everything the recent faux-biopic Becoming Jane got wrong, The Jane Austen Book Club gets right by successfully marrying frothy romantic comedy, painful drama and a smart knowledge of the writer’s literary classics. In this adaptation of the book by Karen Joy Fowler, the members of the titular book club gather to discuss Austen’s genius one book at a time but soon realize that their own lives are or are becoming mirrors of the author’s timeless storylines. Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker and Maggie Grace more than fill the estrogen quotient, while Hugh Dancy shines as dashing tech-geek Grigg. While the movie sometimes stumbles tonally, mostly due to a terrible soundtrack that undermines every scene, it tends to deliver smirk after smirk without miring itself in so much drama that you forget to, you know, smirk (as in Becoming Jane). Longtime scribe Robin Swicord’s directorial debut will more than satisfy Austen fans, and maybe even make the author a few new ones – like she needs them.
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