Austenland (2013)

(On Cable TV, June 2015)  Seemingly designed for maximum cuteness, Austeland plays with the tropes of romantic comedies as a lovelorn American heads to England to visit a Jane Austen-themed park, where she’ll spend a week in an idealized historical setting where romance is guaranteed.  Of course, it becomes hard to distinguish between reality and fiction once the romances start piling up.  Austenland benefits considerably from Keri Russell’s charm and Jennifer Coolidge’s over-the-top comic timing, but it’s the intertwining of romantic tropes and how they play out in the multiple realities of the theme park that really drive the plot and the interest of the film.  Austenland certainly isn’t perfect: There’s something off in its low-budget staging (the park is definitely underwhelming once we get there: is there all it is to it?), lack of laughs in favour of knowing chuckles and ultimate adherence to rom-com clichés.  Fortunately, romantic comedy clichés are such that they don’t leave much of a sour taste when they’re reinforced –Austenland isn’t entirely successful, but it’s partially successful in a genre that is very forgiving of imperfection.  It’s a likable film, light and insubstantial but easy to watch and utterly sympathetic.  Twilight haters may want to note abashedly that Stephenie Meyer co-produced the film and so helped make it come in existence.

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