I had Lost in Austen on my Netflix Instant Queue for several weeks, and last night my mother decided it was time we watched it. It was a 3 hour long movie about a girl named Amanda Price who has a doorway to the Bennet’s house in her bathroom. She’s got a mother urging her to marry, a boyfriend who wants to marry her but proposes when he’s drunk so she doesn’t believe him, and a flatmate who appears for about 5 minutes total in the movie so she is unimportant.
spoilers beneath. Apparently I have trouble explaining a movie without explaining the whole movie. But there is a lot I left out.
For the most part the movie was alright. I enjoyed the characters, was surprised how messed up things got (Jane marries Collins and Charlotte leaves to be a missionary in Africa!). In particular I liked how the movie showed the characters as having a life outside of what is written in the novel. They have strengths and weaknesses and deal with them as best they can. Mr. Bennet is shown as a man who by not getting involved has left his wife with the position of having to get thier daughters husbands if only to make sure they (as well as she) are taken care of). She’s protective of her daughters, and eventually manages to stand up to Lady Catherine. Amanda herself causes problems with the simple fact that she hasn’t quite managed to bring herself to act like a women from the 18th century would. Although to be honest, I don’t think she tried much to make herself fit in and for a women who claimed to love the atmosphere around the book, she seemed to be very unaware of what went on.
Darcy of course is relatively the same, although the consequences of his actions are a little worse this time around. Bingley, though at first attracted to Amanda, later falls in love with Jane but is convinced by Darcy not to marry her because of her family only looking for money and her friendship with Amanda Price. He does however seem to have a little more of a backbone when it comes to his sister. He may follow Darcy’s advice when it comes to marriage, but he refuses to let his sister be mean to the Bennets.
Collins is much as he usually is, although a bit more physically awkward in this then in past P&P adaption’s. He first asks Amanda to marry him, but denounces the engagement once a rumor comes out that she is not a lady, but instead the daughter of a Fisherman. Then, he somehow ends up with Jane who is miserable. Bingley watches on, also miserable. I have to admit at this point I was leaving the room at times. This movie did not hold me to my seat.
We have a few moments that actually do seem to be going to the timeline in the book. Wickham shows up, plays the part of the evil bastard (although you later find he’s not as evil as he has been portrayed) and we all end up at Pemberly. Bingley at this point is drinking the pain away, Jane is just praying her husbands vow of celibacy doesn’t end anytime soon. Lydia and Mrs. Bennet are there as is Caroline Bingley, who apparently wants Darcy for his money and Amanda for her body (yep, Apparently she’s a Lesbian. As they say in the movie, I doubt Jane Austen knew she was writing that into Caroline.) Bingley gets his chance to punch Darcy, and Caroline plays up her part as the competition.
More things go wrong, and Lydia runs off with Bingley this time around. Bingley doesn’t have the same intentions as Wickham. He is just bored with society, angry too. They think that going to where Amanda claims to be from they will find a new type of society that will entertain them. Amanda finally gets Mr. Bennet into Concerned Father mode and they take after them. Wickham somehow figures out to be there before them, setting things up so Amanda’s secret is not found out, and they confront Bingley who tries to explain that nothing happened. Mr. Bennet decides to attack him, and Bingley defends himself but ends up pushing Mr. Bennet into a wall and giving him a head injury.
Amanda therefore goes to find Elizabeth to tell her that her father is not doing so well. Here is where we start concluding the storyline. Darcy by the way has fallen in love with Amanda, just like he would have Elizabeth if Lizzie hadn’t been spending her time in present day learning how to use a computer and being a nanny. He asks her to marry him, which Amanda says yes, having fallen in love with him too, but he breaks it off after Caroline hints at Amanda’s Past and when Confronted Amanda makes the mistake of actually telling him the truth. Which included her live-in boyfriend Michael.
So the movie ends with Mr. Bennet on the mend, Catherine making her appearance at Longborne (this time to get rid of Amanda), Amanda manages to get Catherine to figure out a way to cancel the Collins marriage and therefore letting Jane marry Bingley (who has decided that when they get married, they are going to America where no one knows them and begin again). Wickham is shown to be a good guy at heart, although he is now after Caroline. Elizabeth is at home and Amanda tries to put her and Darcy together
How does it end? Elizabeth plans to go back to Modern day London, and Amanda rushes to Pemberly to be with Darcy.
Which I didn’t like. In my mind, Elizabeth and Darcy belong together. Switch up how they manage it, fine, but at the end of the story, those two are in love and have a happily ever after. I kept waiting for Amanda to go back to modern day England to find her boyfriend still there. To find out that he’s not as bad as she thinks, even if he does lack the romance.
The movie started out with the idea that it wasn’t Darcy Amanda was in love with. It was Elizabeth and her sisters. The Atmosphere etc. But it ended up being yet another “Modern girl falls into Jane’s World and Darcy falls in love with her & vice-versa” which is not very unique. To be honest, most of the movie was average at best. I enjoyed the minor characters being fleshed out a bit. Mr. Bennet is not the sensible man he seems to think he is. Mrs. Bennet did not marry her husband for situation and actually cares for him and their daughters. You can see how much in love Jane & Bingley are and Darcy gets to see that his actions have more consequences then he originally thought.
But I had no real love for Darcy, or Amanda for that matter. The Modern/Real world characters are in there so little its hard to know who they are. The movie tries to make Amanda Elizabeth’s alter-ego and didn’t quite make it. And the plot twist of having Darcy find the novel was one scene I could have taken out of the film.
I’ll give it a B-. Enjoyable for a day when there is nothing else on, but not a movie I would think about purchasing for my own collection of Austen-themed movies.