Do You Really Want to Go to “Austenland”?

Andrew Greene
4 min readFeb 27, 2024


Keri Russell’s Jane (get it, Jane Austen) — has a Problem. She likes Jane Austen too much. She has a Jane Austen themed bedroom as an adult. She has a Mr. Darcy cardboard cutout. Instead of blaming her parents for naming her Jane or knowing how rad this chick is, this is all embarrassing. This means she’s unrealistic in love and therefore, still single. Hey, kids: being single is NOT a problem. Changing yourself for others IS a problem.

Another problem is when an ex-boyfriend comes to win Keri Russell back at the beginning of this movie and starts his pitch with, “Hey, horseface.” What the fuck? If she’s dating this prick, she’s clearly not holding her breath for Mr. Darcy. Keri Russell’s problem is not having standards, proper self-esteem and not calling on this guy’s bullshit and kicking his ass.

Instead of de-Austening room at her best friend’s behest, Keri Russell doubles down on Jane Austen fandom and buys a trip to… Austenland!

Fuck yeah. You know you’ve made the right decision in life when you befriend Jennifer Coolidge at the airport. The two new chums are swept away to a British manor where they’re promised a most ardent romance.

Credit: The Austin Chronicle

This is where the movie takes a turn I didn’t anticipate. Instead of hosting a bunch of Austen obsessives from around the globe, where everyone shares a passion and a level playing field and can fall in love or not, it’s literally just Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King’s Lady Amelia Heartwright being courted by paid actors on the premises.

No wonder this trip is so expensive. No wonder Keri Russell can only afford the “Copper” package, whereas Coolidge and Lady Amelia spring for the platinum, the “fast pass” to fake romance. You can’t escape the class struggle, even/especially in a themed resort.

Credit: Roger Ebert

Anyway — turns out they’re basically in a Jane Austen themed Chippendales with more clothes, where they’re instructed not to touch the actors. But uh, that rule is broken constantly. Are these actors actually sex workers? I’m all about that themed adult playground but it doesn’t feel like everyone’s on the same page here. There’s even confusion over who is an actor and isn’t. The first rule of kink is consent, and it’s really hard to define consent when not everyone’s on the same page, because nobody knows or follows the rules.

The only thing I’m sure of is that I desperately want to take a “Bonnets, Bosoms and Vices” lecture series. But maybe not in this movie’s universe. Because Jane Seymour’s proprietor Mrs. Wattlesbrook is running a suspicious business, y’all. And that’s true before her husband Mr. Wattlesbrook’s attempted assault on one of the paying guests. This moment ruins the joy of having the Mr. Hurst actor in this movie. And while the movie knows this act is wrong, it’s really only used as potential blackmail rather than evidence of a toxic system with mixed messaging.

Credit: NPR

The message of this movie, what Keri Russell learns, is that she wants “something real,” rather than fawning over fantasy and make-believe Mr. Darcy’s. The problem is that Austenland’s big twist is that it isn’t honest about what and who is real or not. This muddies the message and my conscience so I’m unable to truly root for the actor who wasn’t really an actor that actually loves her (as opposed to the civilian who really was an actor taking advantage of her) when he tracks Keri Russell down / stalks her, shows up at her house and declares his love.

Confused? Me too. Is that love? No.

Did I have fun watching this movie anyway? Yes — it’s got Jennifer Coolidge and Battlestar Galactica’s own James Callis. That is the American way. Entertainment with moral compromise!



Andrew Greene

Writer, director. Creator of The Naked Man Podcast. Human sampler tray following breadcrumbs, forever hungry. @WanderingGreene on IG, Letterboxd & Twitter