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June 23, 2008
The Jane Austen Book Club Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
31/1/200811/6/2008Sony PicturesRobin Swicord
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MKathy Baker

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Time to catch up around the dinner table.
With a worldwide gross of just over $US7 million (on a budget of around $US6 million according to the included commentary) it's not surprising if you haven't seen, or even heard of The Jane Austen Book Club. To be honest it's probably a movie that appeals to few, with even the title limiting viewers to fans of the Jane Austen novels - although it must be said that you need not be familiar with those books to watch this movie.

Six months. Six novels. Six members.
When five women and one man get together to discuss the English writer s beloved novels they realize the heartaches of Emma Mr. Darcy and the Bennet sisters are not so different from their own. Finding comfort wit and wisdom from the pages and each other they discover that in matters of love all they need to ask is: What would Jane do?

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Jane Austen Book Club is a pretty dull movie...
I haven't read any of the Jane Austen novels, so I went into this movie with no background to the books, but that didn't really affect the movie as they rarely discuss the plots in details. Sadly, for the most part, this movie boils down to a weeping, driveling, plodding and poor excuse for a movie.

If there is one single saving grace it's that there are some bits of comedy in the movie. The girls entering Grigg's apartment is pretty entertaining, and on another occasion there's a group of 'goths' entering a lift, one of which has a studded collar on, and upon noticing in a deadpan voice Jocelyn quips "My dog has the same exact collar". It's probably funnier if you see it...

To be honest The Jane Austen Book Club isn't my style of movie. It's slow, boring, and pretty dull and while I can appreciate the acting and direction that doesn't make it something worth me spending more time on with repeat viewings (a second time with the commentary was hard enough!). Still, I watched the movie with my wife, mother in law and another female family friend and they all loved it. I guess girls may 'get' this movie more then me, but I still have my doubts.

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A day out at the beach...

The Jane Austen Book Club has been opened up to fill the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of your widescreen TV (the movie was originally presented in 1.85:1 in cinemas). While there aren't any glaring faults this isn't a transfer which you will use to show off the benefits of the Blu-Ray format.

Overall the image appears pretty lifeless with little vibrancy and sparkle to the image. At times the image colouring seems a little off, but for the most part this 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer is pretty tame. At least being such a recent movie there aren't any film artifacts evident and the source is pretty clean, although there is a fair amount of film grain evident, more then most other pictures released these days. That is perhaps, in part, due to the extremely low budget.

As such a dialogue driven movie there really isn't much to get excited about here, and much like the video there isn't any real reason to start getting excited about this disc. Sony Pictures have provided both and English and Italian Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio. Each of the tracks sounds as good as the other, with clear dialogue, and some nice ambient effects at times. There really isn't much to get excited about sonically with this movie as it is very much center speaker dialogue driven with no special effects or great musical scores to liven up the movie.

Subtitles are provided in nine different languages including English, English SDH, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. The English track was accurate from the dialogue on screen to the subtitle text.

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Emily Blunt as Prudie, an interesting character.
The Jane Austen Book Club bombed at the box office, and isn't what I would consider a movie which demands a big set of extras on Blu-Ray. Still, Sony Pictures have come to the party and provided some goodies to keep the disc in the player a little longer.

Cast and Crew Commentary: Writer and Director Robin Swicord, actors Hugh Dancy and Maggie Grace, editor Maryann Brandon and producer Julie Lynn combine to provide this commentary which, to be honest, outshone the movie for me. There are some interesting stories, quite often rather amusing, about the production of The Jane Austen Book Club. It was quite entertaining to hear about so many people, particularly in the opening credits, were other cast and crew. Quite a lively commentary this is worth a listen. The commentary has subtitles in English and Italian.

Behind the Scenes of 'The Jane Austen Book Club' (18:49): Sadly this is more an extended PR piece for the movie rather then a detailed documentary of the inspiration for the movie. There is some production footage and some interviews but they are very lightweight.

The Life of Jane Austen (21:38): This is actually a very interesting documentary about Jane Austen with some interesting information (Jane Austen's first book was written by "A. Lady" as it wasn't proper for a lady of Jane Austen's standing to write books and get paid for them at that time). As someone unfamiliar with Jane Austen, or most of her works, this was certainly worth a look.

The Book Club Deconstructed (11:43): The director Robin Swicord talks about the characters, and how they live the lives of the book characters. I didn't really get much out of this featurette at all. Why not just make a full-on feature about the six books featured in the movie. This featurette recycles clips from the movie to waste some more time in your life.

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This is about as exciting as the movie gets!
Walking the Red Carped: Los Angeles Premiere (2:46): Some gushing and gloating from the actors on the red carpet. Interestingly a comment is made about the movie being unusual as it was made from the first draft of the script. From my mind I guess in hindsight they should have perhaps done a few more drafts before filming!

Deleted Scenes (6:45): A series of seven deleted scenes, which should actually be called extended scenes instead. There's not much here that would have added much to the movie. In fact, the first deleted scene is more like a blooper as he says 'mother fucker' and then laughs (as does someone off camera). The only other reason to watch, a little lesbian tongue action for about 3 seconds...

Coming to Blu-Ray and Saawariya Trailers (1:45/HD): Standard promotional trailers for Blu-Ray and a Bollywood movie - the latter of which is starting to get me interested following so many viewings!

Despite not even approaching what I would class my cup of tea when it comes to movie taste, The Jane Austen Book Club wasn't a movie that I totally objected to. There are certainly some amusing moments, and the acting is impressive across the board. This is certainly a movie aimed at a female audience. The transfer is solid and the extras exceeded expectations.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.