Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon: Lost in Austen

Some of you probably saw the title of this blogpost and completely objected. That is understandable. For diehard Austen fans who don't want her story to be tinkered with, this is basically your worst nightmare. While Lost in Austen is not technically a complete adaption, it still deserves some attention. I'd like to think of this movie/tv series as a well written and staged fan-fiction of P&P that is generally respectful of the story and gives credit where credit is due i.e. Austen. What I find to be wonderful about this "adaption" is that as far as costumes, language, and the characters are concerned it is a better representation of Austen's world than actual adaptions *cough cough* Stupid 2005 adaption *cough cough*

Anyway, this post technically marks the halfway point of my Pride and Prejudice Watch-a-thon. After this I have two more adaptions to review before I get back to my random assortment of thoughts. So without further ado:

 Lost in Austen (2008)
Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price and Elliot Cowan as Mr. Darcy
Here is the link to the IMDb page so you can see the rest of the cast: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1117666/

I'll give a quick summary of the story because it deviates from the P&P we all know and love:

Amanda Price like all of us loves Pride and Prejudice and of course Mr. Darcy. She has a pretty crappy boyfriend and a boring job at a bank that is named Sandition (that is if you were observant enough the catch the allusion on Amanda's nametag). After a night of P&P reading is interrupted by her drunk boyfriend, Amanda wakes up to discover that shockingly Elizabeth Bennet is in her bathroom and claims that a mysterious door in her house has opened to Amanda Price's bathroom. Intrigued Amanda steps into Lizzie's world and the door slams shut behind her leaving her in Austen's novel and Lizzie stuck in Amanda's world. Amanda desperately tries to get back home, while endeavoring to keep P&P running smoothly without its central protagonist. When her meddling fails, the story makes dramatic deviations from Austen's intended plotline and leaves Amanda as the stand-in for Lizzie and as Mr. Darcy's love interest.

Now a lot of my notes on this movie did not seem to fit into neat categories either, so bear with me and try not to get to discouraged by all the bulletpoints. So shall we start with cons first? Yes, I think so.

Cons:

Well technically this is a con-ish and that is the deviation from the original plotline: While most of the changes that occur due to Amanda's presence are hilarious and entirely forgivable, there are a few instances that really miss the mark.

  • Mr. Collins: As much as I dislike Collins in the book, this new incarnation of Collins is so entirely different and incredibly creepy, like uncomfortably creepy. Collins is meant to be stupidly comical not of the serial killer variety. There is also the grossness of the whole squeezing yourself through your trousers and then smelling it deal. I would prefer to have the old Collins back thank you very much.
  •  Caroline: Here is where Caroline becomes her weird villain incarnation. She isn't just upperclass haughty, but rather outright insulting and scheming. She purposely goes out of her way to make Amanda's life difficult, even before it is suggested that Darcy could have a hint of feelings for Amanda. Her insults are a little too apparent for audiences to believe that the "lowbrow country folks" can't get them. The other element of her character that I don't like is that they decide to incite a few laughs and awkward moments by making Caroline a lesbian. It doesn't further the plot and even to the most accommodating of Austen fans, this is just badly done.
  • Georgiana: This particular incarnation of Austen's character is lackluster and the change is really for the worse. Instead of Wickham seducing her, it is Georgiana that relentlessly pursues George. In order to save her public image, Wickham lets everybody belief he was at fault. This casts her in a vein similar to that of Lydia. Additionally, the version makes her come off as childish. Darcy comes home to find her organizing her beads by color. I find it hard to believe the daughter of a privileged family would spend her time recategorizing her beads.
 The next bullets are just my nitpicking at the movie's faults
  • At certain points in the movie, Darcy is really very rude and callous. At times he is actually yelling insults at Amanda. Darcy is meant to be prideful, but never to this extent. There is one scene where he abandons Amanda before their dance is over. Yet again I can't forget about propriety and the gossip that might provoke.
  • The scene where Amanda kisses Bingley was quite unnecessary. Essentially it doesn't add to the conflict of the story, nor is it believable. For someone who is such a diehard fan of P&P and who cares about Jane's future, it doesn't seem logical for her to randomly kiss Bingley.
  • Lydia and her involvement with Bingley: In this version, after Jane marries Collins, Bingley goes into basically a drunken stupor. In this state he is actually the one to run away with Lydia. I could accept this plot alteration, but the problem is there are no repercussions. While Lady Catherine insists she can annul Jane's unconsummated marriage and Bingley insists they can go to America, there is no discussion about Lydia. Am I to assume that she will be alone forever because she had a tryst with man she was no married to. That was really a big plot hole.

Now lets talk about the many pros of this version.
  •  Let's be honest. This movie is every P&P fan's dream. How many women have imagined that they could take the place of Lizzie and marry Darcy. It was a great move on the part of the filmmakers to turn this into a mini-series
  • Amanda Price: She really is an amazing protagonist  and she really had to be in order to fill the big shoes that Lizzie leaves behind. Had Amanda been this wilting flower that cried the minute things didn't go her way, I would have entirely hated this concept. Instead she is sassy, independent and really has the best of intentions. She doesn't immediately set out to make Darcy love her and when he finally admits it, she still tells Lizzie that she is destined to be with him. Not to mention all the funny bits are all because of her like when she call Caroline frosty knickers and knees Collins in the balls.
  • Mr. Bennet: Hugh Bonneville is my perfect Mr. Bennet. In my mind when I read P&P, Mr. Bennet was exactly like his version of the character. He isn't bumbling like the 1940 version and he isn't incredible awkward and lackluster like the 2005 version. His wonderful character leads right into my next pro...
  • The relationship between Lizzie and her father: What's incredible sad about the other adaptions when compared to this one is in about 30 mins or less Lost in Austen manages to establish the amazing relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Bennet better than the actual adaptions. The two share incredibly tender moments when Lizzie returns to care for him and when she tells him that she would probably return to Amanda's time period. The actors are not awkward around each other at all.
  •   Wickham: In this version Wickham is a likeable scoundrel that is great for a few laughs. I love that he has no shame in admitting that he is after Caroline's wealth, but it nice enough to help Amanda when everybody in society has rejected her. He is also instrumental in saving the life of Mr. Bennet when he gets injured in a duel with Bingley and of course saving the reputation of Georgiana.
  • Charlotte: This pro is not actually related to the actress that plays Charlotte, her part was a little forgettable. It is really in reference to how audiences can really see how important Charlotte's character is to the story. Without Charlotte there to marry Collins, he would have had the opportunity to snatch up Jane when Bingley quits Netherfield and that is exactly what happens in this version. One supposedly "little" secondary character gone and the whole story goes haywire.
  • Accurate period representation: The speech patterns are accurate, the settings (including the ball scenes) are correct, and the costumes are correct. All the women wear bonnets and even Amanda most of the time is properly attired.
  • I love that in this version the audience finally gets to see Mr. Darcy warn Bingley away from Jane. In the other adaptions it is just mentioned by Darcy later on. Here we get to see just how convincing Darcy is when he brings up the fact that the Bennet family is undesirable.
  • Annnnnddddd the last pro to Lost in Austen is the nod to the Colin Firth adaption of P&P. Here Amanda requests that Darcy take a dip in the pond in his garden, which is of course a reproduction of the famous Colin Firth lake scene and Elliot Cowan is pretty nice to look at so no complaints on that front.

If you are still on the fence about Lost in Austen and haven't seen it, just take a chance. It was 3 of the most hilarious Austen filled hours of my life.  Have an awesome day and best wishes!