What a great time to be a Jane Austen fan! Two engaging, Austen-themed films are new to JDL. The Jane Austen Book Club stars Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits and Hugh (yummy) Dancy. The film tells the story of a woman, recently divorced, whose friends try to cheer her up by starting a book club. Five women and one man meet to discuss Jane Austen's books and begin to see their relevance to their own lives. Emily Blunt is sensational as a teacher tempted by a younger man. "What Would Jane Do?" Hugh Dancy is a sci-fi fan who joins because he's interested in Maria Bello, who is trying to fix him up with Amy Brenneman. "She's such an Emma!" This movie is not just for Jane Austen fans! Read more at the Internet Movie Database - IMDB.
The second film, Becoming Jane, takes a little-known romance of the real Jane Austen and expands on the theme. Tom Lefroy, played by James McAvoy, was a young penniless law student, helping to suppor his large family in Ireland with the small pittance from his rich uncle. He and Jane, the incandescent Anne Hathaway, meet, instantly dislike each other and, of course, fall in love. This much we know from Jane's own letters to her sister Cassandra. However, cooler heads realize such a match is impossible due the the relative poverty of both parties and Tom is sent packing back to Ireland, where he eventually becomes Chief Justice (and names his first daughter Jane.) The movie takes an quite widely imaginative view of the romance and it's nice to think it may have happened that way. I won't spoil you with the surprise - you'll have to see it yourself. Julie Walters and James Cromwell play Mrs. and Rev. Austen, Jane's parents and Maggie Smith has a nice turn as the imperious Lady Gresham as does Ian Richardson as Judge Langlois. Read a plot summary at IMDB.com.
Both movies are available to rent for a dollar. They are both new release and can't be put on hold. The new PBS movie versions of the Jane Austen books have been ordered and will soon be available.