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Based on the novel of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler, this film is about six Californians – five women and one man – who start a book club to discuss Jane Austen’s novels.  The various members are facing challenges in their lives, and the club and the books themselves prove therapeutic in helping them to deal with their own problems.

I haven’t read the book that the film was adapted from, but I’m intending to make it the very next one on my pile, because I loved this gem of a movie.  It had some very funny moments, but mostly it was sweet, utterly charming and moving.  The cast had terrific chemistry, and the lifelong friendship between dog-loving control freak Jocelyn (Maria Bello) and recently separated Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) was completely believeable.  The remaining members of the cast – Maggie Grace as Sylvia’s daughter daredevil daughter Allegra, Kathy Baker as the matriarchal six-time divorcee Bernadette, Emily Blunt as the buttoned up and discontented French teacher Prudie, and Hugh Dancy as the absolutely adorable Grigg – all fitted perfectly into their roles, and the main cast is rounded out by Jimmy Smits, as Sylvia’s philandering husband Daniel, Marc Blucas as Prudie’s insensitive husband Dean (although I thought Dean was a more likeable character than Prudie!), and Kevin Zegers as a student who Prudie falls for.  Jimmy Smits was actually my main reason for wanting to see this film, as I think he is rather lovely, but I was charmed by the whole cast, and Hugh Dancy has a new fan!

I would heartily recommend this film, whether or not you are a fan of Jane Austen (you do not need to have read the novels to watch this film) – it’s a definite keeper for me, and one I shall be watching again.

Year of release: 2007

Director: Robin Swicord

Producers: Marshall Rose, John Calley, Julie Lynn, Diana Napper, Jonathan McCoy, Lisa Medwid, Kelly Thomas

Writers: Karen Joy Fowler (book), Robin Swicord

Main cast: Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Emily Blunt, Hugh Dancy, Jimmy Smits, Kevin Zegers, Marc Blucas

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Click here for my review of the novel.

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