Story

Austenland is a British romantic comedy about single American 30-something Jane Hayes (Keri Russell). Jane is obsessed with Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her idealisation of Mr Darcy has crippled her love life, because no real man can compare with him. After a short-term relationship breaks up for that reason, Jane spends all her savings on a trip to an English Regency-style resort called Austenland, which offers an immersive Jane Austen experience. Guests must go by aliases, dress in period costume and go without all modern conveniences. There are even male actors posing as gentlemen, and romance is guaranteed for each of the guests during their stay.

Jane soon finds herself torn between two of the men at the resort – stable boy Martin (Bret McKenzie), who she presumes isn’t an actor, and gentleman Mr Henry Nobley (J.J. Feild). As time goes on, she finds herself falling for Henry. But she doubts his intentions, believing it’s merely part of the package romance. Jane eventually discovers that Martin was scripted to fall for her, whereas Henry – who had only just begun working at the mansion – has genuine feelings for her. Jane must decide whether to take a chance by trusting her instincts and giving Henry – a man who appears to be her ultimate fantasy – a real chance.

Themes

Relationships and love; social hierarchy; taking chances

Violence

Austenland has some limited violence and accidental harm. For example:

  • The guests and actors all spend some time pheasant shooting.
  • One of the gentlemen, Captain East, is also a soap star. The other guests watch scenes from his television show in which he gets shot repeatedly and dies.
  • During a play performance, Captain East accidentally gets hit in the crotch with a large stick. It seems to really hurt him.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

There is nothing of concern for this age group in Austenland, apart from the limited violence described above. 

From 5-8

There is nothing of concern for this age group in Austenland, apart from the violence described above, which might scare younger children in this age group. 

From 8-13

Nothing of concern 

Over 13

Nothing of concern 

Sexual references

Austenland has some sexual references. For example:

  • One of the actors kisses Jane’s hand and tells her she ‘is the most sensual creature’.
  • When asked to play a piece on the piano, Jane decides to sing a contemporary song that has suggestive lyrics: ‘It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes. I’m gonna take my clothes off’.
  • Mr Wattlebrook is flirting with Jane. He jokingly calls her ‘Miss Lustwhile’ instead of ‘Miss Erstwhile’.
  • Henry accidentally grabs Lady Heartwright’s breasts during a performance.
  • During the performance, Henry accidentally says, ‘I seek no barrage but the cleavage’. He corrects himself and says, ‘The cleaving’.
  • The male actors are discussing Jane, and Colonel Andrews says, ‘Oh yeah, I could slap that between a bun’.
  • At the ball, Elizabeth tells Jane that she is wearing her ‘favourite pair of pink pantaloons’.
  • While in the stables with Jane, Martin says, ‘You’re a little bit tired. We’ll have to give you a rub-down tonight’. Jane is uncomfortable because she thinks he’s suggesting something sexual. He’s actually talking to his horse. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern 

Nudity and sexual activity

Austenland has limited sexual activity. For example:

  • Jane and Martin kiss several times throughout the movie. Jane also kisses Henry several times, and her friend Elizabeth kisses Colonel Andrews (against his wishes, however).
  • Mr Wattlebrook tries to force himself on Jane one night, which is something he has done with other women. He asks Jane whether she’d be interested in ‘a little wink-wink nudge-nudge under the table’ while grabbing her by the waist and trying to kiss her. Jane pushes him away. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

Austenland has limited coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Austenland is a heart-warming movie about taking chances and letting go of preconceptions.

Jane is initially limited by her infatuation with a television character, and she can’t see beyond what she thinks she really wants. But she soon discovers that if she wants to take control of her future and give herself a true chance at happiness, she must make herself open to new experiences. She wants something ‘real’ and eventually realises that her fantasy could be her reality.

The movie is likely to lack interest for younger children and has some scenes that might scare children under six years.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • taking control of your destiny so you can be happy
  • learning to trust others and to work out who deserves your trust
  • embracing change and letting go of your past.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as:

  • infidelity and the lasting psychological scars it can cause
  • the differences between false relationships and feelings and real ones.