08 May 2014

The Jane Austen Book Club (starring Mario Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace and Hugh Dancy)

This is one of a handful of films which I have to admit that I enjoyed MORE than the book on which it was based.

A few years ago I picked up 'The Jane Austen Book Club', having read a few positive reviews about it. It was a confusing novel about six people who met monthly to discuss Jane Austen's books. I found it hard to keep track of who was whom, and didn't really track the parallels with Austen's books and the lives of those discussing them.

However I had heard that the movie was very well done, so I added it to my wishlist, and was given it recently. We - my husband, young adult son and I - watched it last night, and very much enjoyed it. The plot is essentially that of the book, but the cast were much easier to distinguish; there were no famous names amongst them, but each played their part superbly.

The oldest of the women has been married several times and thinks she might again one day. Sylvia, for whom the club is initially started, has just been divorced. Sylvia's daughter Allegra, who is gay, is betrayed by a lover. Prudie is a young rigid - but emotional - French teacher whose husband appears to care more about football than about her. Sylvia's close friend Jocelyn is a born match-maker... and then there's Grigg, the token male, who has never before read anything by Jane Austen.

Each of the main characters reflects some aspect of Austen's books in their personalities or their lives; not so overtly as to be predictable, but running through the whole story. And because we see them in action rather than getting flashbacks and conversation, I enjoyed this very much indeed.

It's not necessary to be an Austen fan to like and understand this film - my husband has never read any of her books, although he's seen a few film adaptations. But it helps, to appreciate the ironies.

The rating is 12 (12A in the US) which we thought about right. There are a few instances of bad language, but not a huge amount. There are hints and beginnings of intimate scene, but nothing overt. And, thankfully, no violence at all.

The only 'extras' are a few deleted scenes, and some intereting interviews with the actors and production team.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's DVD Reviews

03 May 2014

One Fine Day (starring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney)

This is another film I had not heard of until Amazon recommended it to me. I read a few reviews and added it to my wishlist, and was given it for a recent birthday.

The broad plot is the classic strife-ridden romantic scenario: dislike at first sight, several conflicts, and an eventual realisation of falling in love. However, there's a twist in that the action happens with accompanying small children. The main protagonists Jack (George Clooney) and Melanie (Michelle Pfeiffer) are divorcees whose children, due to confusion and mix-ups, manage to miss a school field trip. Both adults have important days at work, and limited childcare options...

The pace of the film works well, and the humour is understated but made us chuckle aloud a couple of times. Several of the several humorous moments are due to the cleverly choreographed actions of young Sammy (Alex D Linz), who almost entirely stole the show, as far as I was concerned. But there's also great chemistry between the two adults, each of whom assumes the other is like their ex-spouse. And there's a nice turning of the tables where the controlling Melanie manages to be clumsy and irresponsible, while the supposedly irresponsible Jack manages to deal with the children well, and (unlikely though it seems) uncovers a mafia-style plot in passing.

There's nothing deep or particularly thought-provoking, but it was well done and made an enjoyable evening's viewing. The refreshing lack of violence, bedroom scenes or bad language means that this is entirely suitable for children; the PG rating makes sense, since I doubt if it would be of much interest to anyone under the age of about 12.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's DVD Reviews