Scene from The Jane Austen Book Club
Having established my personal definition of a movie heroine, I am on a quest to find her. First stop – the Jane Austen Book Club.
Attesting to her staying power, the writer has her own fandom, complete with fanfiction. How 21st Century for a 19th Century author? Many TV and film adaptations have been made of her books. One could say Jane is a heroine in her own write.
I agonized over employing the feminine heroine, as the contemporary trend is to use what is a masculine term, such as actor, in a genderless manner: The feminine term perceived to imply an inferior worthiness. I eschew the assumption that applying the masculine form of a word to a female assures equality. Rather, that use enforces the implication that the masculine has greater value than the feminine.
Do Jane Austen and the women of The Jane Austen Book Club meet my heroine criteria?
- Lead like Marie Curie.
- Demonstrate the wit of Dorothy Parker.
- Embody unconventionality like Katherine Hepburn.
The heroines of this film are played by Mario Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman and Maggie Grace. The iridescent Kathy Baker as Bernadette stands out, although disappointingly her unconventionality is cast off in the final scene. How very Jane Austen.
I admit that one year I assigned myself the task of reading all her novels, just as the Book Club does in the film. The objective was to turn a loathed commute into a palatable journey. Success was limited. Attempting to read Northanger Abbey ended the self-improvement project.
Jane, as all fine authors are advised, wrote what she knew, with a virginal wit and anonymity. She was a keen observer of the mores of the society in which she lived. She was, however, conventional. Therefore it is fitting that the female characters of The Jane Austen Book Club echo the behaviour of Austen’s heroines, albeit with contemporary flair.
I enjoyed the film, but did not find the archetypical movie heroine that I seek. My quest continues.