Skip to main content

Austenland: A Com-Rom for the Fanatic


As the summer movie lineup rolls toward the credits, a rom-com has finally swooped in to spare us from the attack of the sequels. Austenland—premiering tomorrow— is a needed dose of both romance and laughter this summer.

More comedy than romance perhaps, Austenland might better be called a com-rom, as producer Stephanie Meyer herself calls it. The best part is, the joke's on you.

Austenland is a story about a woman, Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), who has spent most of her life pining after Jane Austen’s ever brooding hero, Mr. Darcy. Sound like anyone you know?

Having met too many men who have fallen short—who couldn’t live up to the standard set by Mr. Darcy—Jane is disillusioned and tired of a reality that doesn’t contain her fictional suitor. So Jane chooses fantasy.

Jane Hayes scrapes together to buy a ticket to Austenland, an English resort that recreates Jane Austen’s Regency world and allows its guests to completely immerse themselves. But Jane soon realizes that even in Austenland, fantasy and reality are at war.

Keri Russell explains that she for one can relate to Jane’s desire to live in fantasy, “maybe I’m not making out with Mr. Darcy Dolls on my bed,” Russell tells Verily at a recent pre-screening, “but we all have our little dabblings into fantasy to help us get us through the day.”

Keri continues, “but how much time are we spending in this fantasy world? and do we need to harness it—turn it around—and ask ourselves,what’s existing right now, what’s my world right now?

When Jane Hayes finds herself in her dream world, that is just the question she must face.

What is real? Between the Darcinian intensity of actor Mr. Henry Nobley (J.J. Fields), the draw of the handsome bad boy and grounds keeper Martin (Bret McKenzie), and the bawdy hilarity of Miss Elizabeth Charming (Jennifer Coolidge), Jane finds her stay in Austenland becomes a constant struggle between what is real and what is fantasy.

Even devoted Jane Austen fans will crack a guffaw at Austenland’s blatant irreverence and clumsy handling of their much idolized world. And even still, as Jane finally finds the eyes of her very own Mr. Darcy staring back at her, you will wait for that kiss with baited breath and smile in spite of yourself. Perhaps it's reality or maybe its fantasy—at that point you won’t even care.