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The Jane Austen Book Club

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The Jane Austen Book Club
Directed by Robin Swicord
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens September 21

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If you can't get enough of the Mutually Supportive Sisterhood narrative, there's every chance you'll go for this perfectly pleasant, perfectly undistinguished adaptation of a market-driven novel about six Sacramento lovelies trying to mend their stalled or broken lives while massaging each other's feet. Like most MSS stories these drearily formulaic days, this one comes accessorized with life lessons from Jane Austen, whose novels offer pregnant parallels to the dilemmas of these neurotic but nice exurban book-clubbers, plus one pretty male nerd in the inoffensive form of Hugh Dancy. You can't outright hate a movie that stars Maria Bello (even as the capable singleton who can't commit) or the excellent Emily Blunt (even as the nervous Nellie unable to see the good stuff right under her upturned nose) or Kathy Baker, predictably cast as the much-married port in a storm. But it's hard to tell who's panting more eagerly in pursuit of all possible chick demographics: Karen Joy Fowler, who wrote the giddily commercial novel; Robin Swicord, who wrote and directed capably enough; or the product placements that pop their merry little heads into practically every frame of this stolidly suburban romance. As for me, I eagerly await the mad bitches of Nicole Holofcener's next movie.

 
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