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An Austen confluence

Posted at 5:13 PM on September 13, 2007 by Euan Kerr

Screenwriter Robin Swicord was working on a screenplay called "The Jane Prize." It was a comedy about a dysfunctional family of Jane Austen scholars when she got a call from veteran producer John Calley.

He knew Swicord wanted to direct and he had the perfect project for her, an adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's bestselling "The Jane Austen Book Club." She says she thinks he offered her the job because he knew she had done the necessary Austen reading.

Swicord talks about how Austen novels still provide a place of retreat for so many people in today's busy world.

"I love the company," she says. "I love Jane Austen's sensibility, her voice, and her humor, and of course the plots are wonderful. And the books yield a lot as you continue to read them over time."

Swicord clearly delighted in developing the characters in Fowler's tale.

"I have been wanting to make a film about contemporary life for a while. Something that people could look at the screen and say,"I recognize myself."

In the film the Jane Austen Book Club forms with six people each having suffered a recent crisis or facing change in their lives. They are all seeking solace of some kind, but while they have a common love of the six Austen novels, they find they have problems with one another.

"There is drama in group dynamics," Swicord says. "And that's what we get to see in this film. These people come together seven times in these big group meetings and every time that they come together something changes because of what happens in the group."

With budget of just $6 million, but a star filled cast "The Jane Austen Book Club" is one of the early buzz films of the fall season. It'll open here in a couple of weeks. We'll air our interview with Robin Swicord around that time.

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