Life imitates art in this adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's bestselling novel about a book group reading the work of Jane Austen. Each of the people in the group is at a different stage of life: there's Sylvia (Amy Brenneman), whose husband has just left her for another woman, and her daughter Allegra (Maggie Grace), who's looking for a woman herself. Bernadette (Kathy Baker) has six marriages under her belt, while Jocelyn's (Maria Bello) most significant relationship is with her dog. New to the group of friends are Prudie (Emily Blunt), a teacher who is unhappy with her marriage, and Grigg (Hugh Dancy), the group's only man--a sci-fi fan invited by Jocelyn to take Sylvia's mind off her failed marriage. As they make their way through Austen's novels, they discover that the writer's work is just as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 19th. The group has its own Emma, and a sparring would-be couple bears striking resemblance to Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. The Jane Austen Book Club succeeds largely thanks to the strength of its cast. Bello is better known for dramatic roles in films such as The Cooler and The History of Violence, but she does an excellent job with this film's lighter tone. As know-it-all Prudie, Blunt steals just as many scenes as she did in The Devil Wears Prada. Though it might seem like a clubhouse with a 'No Boys Allowed' sign, the men in the movie hold their own with the female cast. Jimmy Smits, Marc Blucas, and Kevin Zegers play supporting roles, but it's Dancy who deserves the most praise. As Griggs struggles to woo one of the women in the group, Dancy easily wins the heart of the audience with his geeky charm.
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