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"Austenland": Searching for Mr. Darcy 

Wednesday, Aug 21 2013
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On paper, there may not be a more unlikely confluence of styles than the writers of Twilight and Napoleon Dynamite, but they come together in Jerusha Hess's Austenland, and it works. Written and directed by Dynamite co-screenwriter Hess, and produced by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, Austenland follows Jane (Keri Russell), a Jane Austen superfan who visits an English resort purporting to re-create the Austen-era experience — down to the possibility of finding a real Mr. Darcy, or an equivalent thereof. But Austenland isn't just about girls lusting after boys, and in spite of the not-quite-human caricatures that populated Hess and Meyer's previous works, it actually feels like it's about real people. At the heart of the picture is the friendship between Jane and her fellow Austenlander Elizabeth (Jennifer Coolidge), which is likely the result of the film being made by women. Though Coolidge is in ditz mode, there are fewer jokes about her ample bosom — and her character has more agency — than if a man had been helming the picture. A tip for straight girls whose boyfriends are afraid to see an obvious chick flick because it threatens their fragile masculinity: Tell them that Baltar from Battlestar Galactica is in it. If that doesn't work, he may not be your Darcy.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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