I have considered myself obsessed with a lot of things in my life, from Monty Python to Stephen King to bacon, but the entertainment industry has a way of making my obsessions look like “passive disinterest.” The A&E show Obsessed is more nightmarish than any Hollywood horror of the past five years.
But the above trailer for Sony’s romantic comedy Austenland, courtesy of Yahoo! Movies is an altogether different take on what it means to be a fan of something. Keri Russell plays Jane Hayes, a woman who seems to have based her entire life around the 6-episode 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But it isn’t exactly the film itself or even its source material that enraptures Jane’s mind, but rather Colin Firth’s acclaimed performance as Mr. Darcy. He encapsulates everything she wants out of a man, except he’s just a fictional character. Right?
Well not at the modernity-free Austenland, the Jane Austen “theme park” run by Jane Seymour’s Mrs. Wattlesbrook; this place has Mr. Darcy characters coming out the wazoo. Jane throws her life savings into taking a trip to the British attraction, only to find herself staying in the servants’ quarters and fraternizing with people who don’t even know what Pride and Prejudiceis. (This would be Jennifer Coolidge’s character.)
And amidst all the orchestrated meals and outside events, Jane manages to find not just one dapper potential beau, but two of them. J.J. Fields (Captain America: The First Avenger) plays Henry, and Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords) plays Martin, and it looks like both of these guys are going to be fighting for Jane’s heart, but without any actual fighting I’d bet.
Austenland is the feature directorial debut from Jerusha Hess, the wife of Jared Hess, with whom she co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite and others. The film is adapted from the 2007 novel by Shannon Hale. It’s definitely got a quirky enough premise that should allow for storytelling that is outside the usual rom-com box. Yet it still looks quite like many a film that came before it. And even though I have no real interest in Austen or her work (outside the occasional zombified reimagining anyway), I’m actively hoping that this is something I won’t be ashamed to say I enjoyed. McKenzie's presence alone had me intrigued.
Speaking of Colin Firth Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, I wonder if Jane would be enthralled by the promotional campaign that has a statue of Firth touring different sites. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
Austenland will see a very limited U.S. release on August 16, but I’d assume the U.K.'s September 27 release will be more widespread.