Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Austenland: sweet and adorable!

Jane Hayes (Russell) is a single 30-something American woman obsessed with Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice who wishes for a nice Englishman of her own. After yet another failed relationship, Jane decides to blow her savings on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a Jane Austen–themed resort in England.

The resort seems like the perfect escape from 21st-century life. The guests at Austenland, which is run by the prickly Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Seymour), are called by imaginary names, dress in period costume, and conduct themselves like ladies and gentlemen of the Regency era. They live without modern conveniences (though the plumbing is modern). Activities offered at the resort include needlepoint, riding, reading, shooting, and entertaining the other guests through musical performances or theatrics. At the conclusion of each guest's stay, a ball is held ... romance guaranteed!

Upon her arrival, Jane realizes that, while she could only afford the inexpensive "copper" package, the other guests—including Ms. "Elizabeth Charming" (Coolidge) -- have all purchased the most expensive "platinum" option. Although she quickly befriends Martin, the resort's chauffeur, Jane is treated with disrespect and disdain by Mrs. Wattlesbrook, who prefers the resort's wealthier guests. While the other guests are given a wide choice of costumes and shown to luxurious rooms, Jane is given a plain dress and a sparsely-decorated chamber in the "creepy tower" of the servants' quarters. At dinner on their first night, Jane and Elizabeth are introduced to the gentlemen of the house: Colonel Andrews (Callis), an eccentric man to whom Elizabeth takes an instant liking, and Mr. Henry Nobley (Feild), Mrs. Wattlesbrook's handsome—albeit unenthusiastic—nephew. They are also introduced to another, exceedingly wealthy guest, who has been given the name Lady Amelia Hartwright (King). Amelia and Elizabeth flirt openly with Nobley throughout dinner, while Jane finds him rather disagreeable. Their argument ultimately mirrors the one had by Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy upon their first meeting in Pride and Prejudice. Ultimately, Jane is humiliated by Mrs. Wattlesbrook and leaves the table.

Jane again feels left out the following morning during a walk around the grounds. After leaving the group to seek solace with a book in the stables, she is discovered by Martin (McKenzie). Martin flirts with her, but the two are interrupted by Elizabeth, Nobley, and Colonel Andrews, who arrive with news of an upcoming hunt.

Martin's attentions to Jane during the pheasant shooting incites Nobley's jealousy; Jane's surprising skill in turn incites Amelia's. When Jane is forced to walk back to the house in the rain, she is rescued by Nobley. That evening, Jane becomes bored of the group's card games and leaves the house for a walk around the grounds. She runs into Martin; after flirting and witnessing the birth of a foal in the stables, they kiss. The following afternoon, Jane convinces Martin to break the rules: they take a rowboat out on the canal and spend the afternoon together.

The following day, the party is disrupted by the sudden arrival of another actor, the handsome Captain East. Everyone except Nobley is impressed by the Captain, who in turn seems taken with Jane. Martin witnesses the Captain making a pass at Jane from a distance. When Jane comes to visit him in the stables, he rebuffs her for "parading around" with the actors. When she asks if he is breaking up with her, he replies that they were never "going steady." Jane is left alone, angry and confused.

The next day finds the actors and staff relaxing by the staff swimming pool, where Nobley's dislike of the self-absorbed George ("Captain East") is evident. Martin nonchalantly asks the other men's opinion of "that girl Jane," indicating that he likes her despite their argument. Later that day, in the retiring room, Mrs. Wattlesbrook demands that Jane play the piano for the group. Frustrated by Mrs. Wattlesbrook's behavior, Jane defiantly chooses to play and sing the only song she knows -- "Hot in Herre"—before leaving the room. On her way to find Martin in the stables, Jane is stopped by Nobley, who knows about her relationship with Martin and who insists upon the impropriety of a lady being alone at night, "let alone cavorting with the servants." His attitude frustrates Jane and leads to an argument. Back at the house, Jane is accosted by a drunken Mr. Wattlesbrook. She fights off his attempted assault, which draws the attention of Nobley and Captain Andrews.

Frustrated with her "copper" package, Jane decides to take her Austenland experience into her own hands and make her trip worthwhile. She asks Elizabeth for help impressing the men and the two of them steal some of Amelia's clothes. Jane wows the group with her charm, but her stay at Austenland is threatened when Mrs. Wattlesbrook discovers her cell phone, which Jane had smuggled into her room at the start of her stay. Just when Mrs. Wattlebrook is ready to evict Jane, Amelia surprises everyone and steps in to save her. In exchange, Amelia blackmails Jane into creating situations in which she and Captain East can be alone together, which somehow forces Jane into Nobley's company.

During rehearsals for a play, which the guests are to perform for Mrs. Wattlesbrook, Jane and Nobley discover their mutual honest affection for the Austen era. After the play's disastrous conclusion (during which Elizabeth accidentally injures Amelia's eye), Jane and Nobley sneak off to Jane's room, where Nobley confesses that he feels something for her.

At the ball, all the guests dance. Amelia and the Captain dance together all evening (mainly so the Captain can keep Amelia from attacking Elizabeth in retaliation for her injury). However, Nobley interrupts the dance to take Jane to a private balcony where he confesses his love for her. Disillusioned with what she calls "the game", Jane runs away and chooses instead to spend the rest of the evening with Martin, in order to feel something real.

As their Austen experience has come to a close, Jane and Amelia leave the house together. Upon departing, Jane is amazed to discover that Amelia is, in fact, an American, who visits Austenland yearly to distract herself from her marriage to a wealthy elderly gentleman. As Jane leaves, Mrs. Wattlesbrook informs Jane that while Nobley was not "assigned" to her, Martin was actually an actor, meaning that his romance with Jane was scripted. Angry at being duped and suspecting that she was not the first guest assaulted by Mr. Wattlesbrook, Jane threatens to sue Mrs. Wattlesbrook and shut down Austenland. Martin follows her to the airport on Mrs. Wattlesbrook's orders in an attempt to smooth things over. As Jane dismisses his claims of love (which he admits were scripted), Nobley appears and pleads with Jane to believe that his own affections for her were genuine.

Angered by them both, and disillusioned with Austen, she leaves both Martin and Nobley at the airport. Back home, Jane clears out the remains of her Darcy collection (including photos, stuffed animals, and life-sized cardboard cutouts).

A few days later, she is surprised to find Nobley standing at the front door of her apartment, having traveled all the way across the Atlantic to return her sketchpad. Although Jane initially questions his motives, pointing out that he could have just mailed the sketchpad, she eventually believes Nobley's professed feelings. He explains that his real name is Henry Nobley, that he is a history professor, and that he only agreed to work for his aunt so he could experience the Austen era, a time when love was simple. Jane finally believes him and they kiss.

In the post-credits scene, it is revealed that Elizabeth has bought Austenland and turned it into a theme park. Jane and Nobley are among the guests, obviously very much in love.

Mr. Wattlesbrook now works as a garbage picker, Captain East does a strip show of which Amelia is a keen fan, and Elizabeth is living the dream, surrounded by handsome footmen, as well as keeping Colonel Andrews as her co-host/companion. Martin is seen attempting to pick up women as he drives a buggy around the grounds, but they all snub him.

at first i was rather apprehensive regarding the movie premise. Jane does look so desperate with Mr Darcy's cutout and whatnots. but as her character progresses through the movie, it reveals how much she really is just a person searching for love and romance, though rather extremely..

as for Nobley, oh my, oh my.. i'm rather charmed with his good looks.. the way his hair curled, his crinkling smiles, his eyes, alahai.. cair hati mak!

the chemistry is there, JJ Feild is really exemplary in his acting. as well as KR for that matter.. her helplessness evolving into defiance are rather motivating, hurrah! i mean, when Mrs Wattlesbrook made her into an impoverished orphan, she rallied through with the help of her sweet friend, Elizabeth. as for Amelia, she was funny, hopping around like bunnies, hahaha.. i like her character, she's so comic. as for Martin, he's a scoundrel worthy of Mr Wickham's stature, the cad!

i love the ending where Nobley and Jane hang out at Austenland theme park, looking so much in love and in sync with each other. it made me sigh, how adorable! so there, nothing is wrong in going after your dreams.. be it to experience romance at a themed resort or whatnot. as long as you keep your head clear with what you really want and never lose hope. keep up your spirit and never let circumstances beat you down.

have faith. Jane did :)

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