Lost in Austen (2008) - 'Pride and Prejudice' Reimagined with Hilarious (albeit Messy!) Results


Back at its release, I had looked forward to seeing Lost in Austen. Though its premise may slightly offend me, it's overshadowed by how greatly the script amuses its target audience. This is driven by the heroines’ many attempts to fix an otherwise disastrous plot from the beloved Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  

Lost in Austen

Modern Londoner Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) takes the term Austen "fangirl" to new heights. She has read Pride & Prejudice well over seventy times and prefers Saturday nights with Mr. Darcy, and a glass of wine. After her evening is crashed by her boyfriend (who arrives a bit tipsy), she receives a ridiculously unromantic, drunken proposal from him followed by the discovery of Elizabeth Bennet (Gemma Arten) in her bathroom! 

Assuming she must be hallucinating, in the split second she turns away, her mysterious visitor vanishes. The following day, she goes about reading more of her book but is again surprised by Miss Bennet, only this time she steps through the door to the past and is unable to return. 
Before she realizes what’s happening, she’s swept into the world that she knows as fiction. Once there she meets the Bennet family including the shy and kind-hearted Jane (Morven Christie); and the ditzy Lydia (Perdita Weeks). In her attempts to make certain the right matches are made – including Jane marrying the love of her life, Charles Bingley (Tom Mison), things begin to backfire when Amanda finds she is the object of Bingley’s affections.

Scrabbling to right every wrong, she is further panicked with the conundrum that is the proud Mr. Darcy (Elliot Cowan). Finding herself losing her own heart was not a part of Amanda’s plan but what is she to do with a story whose heroine has gone missing? 

Lost in Austen Bennet Sisters
  
Say what you will about the scripting, one thing that cannot be argued about this fun spoof of a miniseries is its cast. It’s a star-studded jewel that shouldn’t be missed simply for the pleasure of seeing Hugh Bonnville (Downton Abbey), Christina Cole, Ruby Bentall and Alex Kingston just to name a few. Unlike roles they've been previously known for, these are characters they can have fun with, considering there is little the viewer can take seriously in this "tweaked" classic. One that I don't think anyone meant to be taken seriously. Even with Austen’s name being credited, there is little to be seriously compared to her works. That said, there are nods of respect to her words.  

Recently I watched this a second time through. After seeing it again, I came away confirming what I already knew: I absolutely love this delightful piece of fluff. For those of you who refuse to see a new take on such a  classic piece of lit, you won’t like nor will you appreciate this. For those who can set aside the brilliance of Pride and Prejudice in its literary format, Lost in Austen is a piece of jolly good fun. This interpretation pokes fun at the characters – lovingly so, and makes some more dreadful (if possible) than Austen ever imagined. Then there are the comedic genius antics of Amanda. 

Lost in Austen Darcy
Even the hairstyles and costumes production crews put together cannot be taken seriously. Most of them rarely suit the performer with exception to perhaps Christina Cole whose polished image is to be expected. Much as I liked Jemima’s leading lady, she looked ridiculous in period appropriate costuming, and never adapts to the era. Fortunately, these are minor details in the scope of an otherwise humor laced series.

There's an adorable opening credit sequence, fabulous scripting (the language is wonderful), a memorable scene involving a soaking wet Darcy (avid fans will appreciate this throwback), and general hilarity. The ending is ambiguous with its sudden close; not everything wraps as you may expect. Nonetheless, for the fan who is willing to allow for rules to be bent, this is a bit of sass that may have appalled Jane Austen but greatly amuses me. 

CONTENT: References are made to a marriage never being consummated [including questions of a woman being able to “please” her husband] along with various other sexual innuendo. One remark is made about a man grabbing his privates and “sniffing” his fingers afterwards. Another unmarried couple run away, and another girl admits to lying about being taken advantage of. In an attempt to deter interest, a woman subtly suggests she’s a lesbian and we later find out another character is when she mildly “comes on” to another female. A few British slang words pepper the script and someone is injured causing blood to poor from their head. This is rated TV14.
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Rissi
27 Comments

27 comments:

  1. So glad you liked it. I liked it allot too. I especially heart the steamy emerge from the water scene.

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    1. Oh, gosh! Yes I did enjoy this one, Juju - isn't it such a cute, funny ensemble piece!? Wish more British comedy was like this clever, romantic comedy.

      That scene was great - and what a fabulous nod to the 6-hour version. :D

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  2. I saw this a few months back and although I enjoyed it, it didn't make my top ten. But it was a clever idea; I just couldn't get past ALL the changes! But then, I'm not a huge P&P fan to begin with, sooo...But I'd watch it again. :)

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    1. I don't know that I can say this is a "top ten" either, Kellie but it is CERTAINLY a favorite spoof piece. I love the little things they threw in that will make Austen fans happy and yet they gave it personality all its own.

      Glad you didn't mind it - I finally watched it a second time and really liked it. :)

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  3. I had never heard of this movie. It sounds interesting... However the P&P movie with Keira Knightley is my super favorite and I don't know if I'd be able to watch another movie (with different actors) without being very and overly critical. I do want to see the 6 hour (or whatever) long P&P movie at some point soon :) Thank you for the review! Sierra
    Keep growing beautiful!

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    1. *HIGH FIVE*

      I am super glad to meet another 2005 "P&P" fan, girl! It seems like everyone is ready to bash that one without giving it a chance - I still remember seeing it on the big-screen and since then, it's grown on me to the point where it's nearly overtaken the top spot among the other adaptations I've seen. That's always been held by the 6-hour version which is still a masterpiece.

      Lost in Austen is lots of fun, Sierra unless you are prejudiced with the more literary versions. However, if you're not a HUGE, die-hard Austen purest, then this is certainly easy to like - and please. :)

      Thank you for visiting and reading!

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    2. I am definitely a fan. It might be because I have seen the 6 hour one yet or just because I haven't seen any others :P But I think that Jane, Mr. Bingley, Mr.Darcy and a bunch of the characters were cast spot on in it. I don't think I'm that prejudiced about it. And hey, my mom was just this morning saying that it can't be a retelling if you don't mess with it a little :P Sierra
      Keep growing beautiful!

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    3. Yay! That movie is actually close to taking the top spot and a friend just mentioned that she thinks the 2005 film has in her rankings. So many are critical of it though - glad to have found someone else who likes it. :)

      Jane is super sweet in the re-make whereas Matthew McFayden had to grow on me. Still, he definitely has and I think he does a great job.

      Your mom has an excellent point! In interpreting something, everyone is going to have a little different perspective and since people get "bored" with some re-makes, it behooves a writer to put a unique spin on it. :)

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    4. *smiles* Yeah my best friend thinks the longer one is better :/ But I have a couple other friends who like "mine" better. Or they haven't seen the other, like me, yet. Anywhooo... Yes "shook up" retellings certainly make things more interesting! And it makes the retelling more unique. If I was writing a retelling I would want something to set my version apart you know? Sierra
      Keep growing beautiful!

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    5. For a while so did I, Sierra - it was the first version of the story I ever saw and it totally enchanted my young teenage mind. Then there is Colin Firth whom everyone thinks is FABULOUS as Darcy - I did too and yet now, Matthew McFayden is right up there. We have such a romantic notion of Darcy to be honest. In reality for those husband-hunting women, it was his money that made him really appealing. ;O

      It's really hard to set apart a re-telling or even your own work since *we* are creatively influenced by what we read, hear or see. For me, my WIP will probably wind up being formulaic and "sweet" though it's not because I don't want it to be better, it's just because it's my first draft and I want to have fun writing it while trying to seriously attempt finishing the darn thing. :)

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  4. I started watching this a few years ago, but was kind of turned off by some parts. Mainly, all the modern-ness. Ha! I guess I'm a little bit of a purest? XD I had forgotten that Hugh Bonnville is in it though(love him), and judging by how you like it, maybe I should give it another try. :-)

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    1. I understand how some Austen fans might feel that way, Maria - and there is nothing wrong with it.

      When I go into an "update" of a classic, I expect it to be modern and take liberties so I'm not disappointed when it lives up to that - plus I like being entertained and this series does that! Have you seen the Bollywood version of "P&P" or the modern "S&S" with Alexa Vega? I only ask because if you didn't mind those, then 'Lost' doesn't differ much as far as its contemporary elements.

      Yes! Hugh is in this one and I think that's awesome! When re-watching it a couple weeks ago, my mother and I were like, "the 'Downton' guy is in this!?" He gets to play a funnier character here. :)

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    2. I actually haven't seen either of those, but I looked them up just now. Interesting stuff! It's sometimes fun to see movies based on classic plots and see what they did with them! Creativity for the win! :-)

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    3. The creativity is astounding, Maria! Love that about each contemporary version. And it helps that I love the guy who plays Darcy in Bride & Prejudice. ;D

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  5. I loved and hated this movie at the same time. Haha! I despised what they made Caroline out to be and the switching of Elizabeth and Amanda. But other than that, I really liked it. :-)

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    1. I get that mentality, Rosie. For purists - or even just conservative viewers, this can present disappointments. Making Caroline out to be... not what she should was annoying but I dealt with it considering she is unlikable anyway AND that it's so brief/late in the series. (Didn't like writer's throwing this theme into 'Downton' either!)

      Amanda is generally a loveable heroine but she does annoy a few times. Fortunately, her good traits outweigh the bad. :)

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  6. While I didn't *love* this as much as I expected, I enjoyed it very much!!! To be completely honest, Elliot Cowan's Darcy was closer to the Darcy in my head from the book than even Colin Firth - don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing The Firth, but just sayin'. :) I think my one quibble is that I do wish that Amanda would have gone back and married someone in the present...I'm NOT an Austen purist but even I was a bit taken aback at how far they changed the end. :D I guess I was kind of hoping for the "realizes that her life is pretty great and the literary fantasties aren't as idealized as she thought" and so her "escaping" permamently was a bit of a letdown. But other than that, loved the film, especially Jane...probably pne of my absolute favorite portrayals. :)

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    1. Hello there, Alexandra - lovely to see you here! :)

      There were some things I wish writer's had taken better care with but overall, this never ceases to make me smile. Loved the opening credit sequence, the actors and the overall story. Believe it or not, I didn't mind the way Amanda's story ends. This is for two reasons. One, it would have been more of a writer's cliché to send her back and two, Lizzi didn't want to stay therefore, there was no love lost. Guess my liking it was the "quirky" part of me.

      Colin Firth is great but I think he can be beat. It's just hard to admit it when he was the first Darcy I "met." ;D

      Glad you liked it alright.

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  7. Gotta be honest...I didn't like this one. :( And as you know, I'm a huge Austen fan. I think it's a brilliant idea and I love the concept! But I didn't like all the...how to say it...crass material that they included. :P That ruined it for me. It was certainly a movie that I'd hoped to love (and I still have hopes that someday, someone will use the idea but ditch the un-needed material), but oh well. Definitely a disappointment here. That being said, I did enjoy reading your review! :)

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    1. That's okay, Charity - honesty is always the best. :)

      Yes, your love of Austen comes through on your blog - and her stories are timeless. It is sad to see that contemporary pieces based on classic material feel the need to include crudities but honestly, I "expect" that going into the movie/book/show. It doesn't make it right but I think that's why I'm not usually overly disappointed when I see something that takes liberties. Perhaps someday a scripter with class will be tasked with writing a modern spin - my friends and I joke that sometimes between us we could write these things better! LOL!

      Thanks for reading! :)

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  8. Oh, I love Lost in Austen (or LiA, as we used to call it on the forum I was active on in those days - man, 2008 is really a long time ago already...) Anyway, it's so funny, quirky and sweet and though I'm annoyed by some of it's characters and plot twists, it's a joy to watch something new transporting us to the world of Jane Austen. Plus, I though Eliot Cowan was very good as Darcy.

    Talking about classics-modernizations: do you watch The Lizzie Bennet diaries? It's a modern adaptation of P&P in the form of 'vlogs' on YouTube. It's absolutely great and much closer to the source material then LiA was!

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    1. So do I, Birdienl! Love the creativity that was put into the scripting and most of the actors who bring it to life - plus how fun is it to see Lord Crawley in something so comical!? :D

      Someone else mentioned liking Eliot as Darcy. During the run time, I think he grew on me and I suspect like Matthew did in the 2005 version, Eliot will continue to get better in my eyes.

      No, I've not seen those yet but have seen a great deal of Twitter chatter about them - and I saw a video somewhere on-line. Perhaps I'll check them out sometime. Thanks for the reminder! :D

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    2. Oh, you should (watch The Lizzie Bennet diaries)! I'm normally not a big 'fangirl', though I do love my series and movies, but strangely enough for this webseries I check out Tumblr and read fanfiction etc. etc., it's just so addictive!

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    3. Good to know, Birdienl! Just the name alone had me curious since it reveals they have something to do with P&P. The biggest thing is finding the time to watch them as I am sure I'd become addicted.

      Glad for the reminder of these. :)

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    4. Yes, the videos are only 4-5 minutes each, so that's not a lot of time, but they've already gotten to vid 80, so if you want to catch up....

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    5. Birdienl, you made me go check out the Lizzie Bennet diaries...with plans to watch the first one, and do more another time. But they were so handily short...well, I watched through episode 10, and definitely plan to do more tonight. They're really fun! Other than a little language, I'm really enjoying them. SO thanks for the recommendation! I've been impressed how Lizzie has some very Lizzie-ish face expressions.

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    6. Birdienl - oooh! Yeah, I'll say there's some catching up to do. YIKES! Eighty videos? At least I won't run out for a while. :)

      Charity - super glad you are enjoying the series. :)

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