Home > Reviews > THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB – Aaron Zigman


September 21, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Ah, Jane Austen. She of the manners and etiquette, the unrequited love, the stoic heroes, the flighty maidens, the English countryside. Love her or loathe her, the work of popular English novelist has become a part of the modern literary – and cinematic – language through the popularity of titles like Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Emma. Robin Swicord’s film The Jane Austen Book Club, based on the novel by Karen Joy Fowler, tells the story of six romantic misfits who come together to read and discuss one Austen novel per month ion the hope that it will bring some sparkle back into their lives, only to find that their relationships – both old and new – begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.

The film stars Amy Brenneman, Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Maggie Grace and Hugh Dancy as the central sextet, and features a score by the enormously busy Aaron Zigman. The score, much like Austen’s novels, is generally pretty and whimsical, with many moments of light romance and self-reflection. The problem, really, is that it doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere, or offer anything really interesting: it just sits there, being all pretty and whimsical.

The ensemble is orchestral, with a fair amount more modern light synths and percussion elements to anchor it in the 21st century, but only a few cues really leave any kind of impression: the gentle pizzicati and accordions in “The Buffy Conference” are fun, the acoustic guitars in “Trey Comes On to Prudie” are appealing, and the more extensive “The Jane Austen Book Club Ending” builds up into a nice, engaging romantic finale with a somewhat unexpected Arabic inflection.

Much of the rest of the score is either inconsequential mood music or frivolous caper music, which is neither here nor there. The other problem with the album is that, despite running for a mere 33 minutes, there are 29 cues on Varese’s album, which inevitably leads to a score full of short pieces, minimal thematic development, and an occasionally quite spotty and un-focused tone. If you’re a fan of light, undemanding romantic music, then The Jane Austen Book Club may well prove to be a worthwhile purchase; if not, then there’s very little to really latch on to.

Rating: **½

Track Listing:

  • Prudie Sees Trey (0:41)
  • The Buffy Conference (2:18)
  • The Airport (1:24)
  • Trey Comes On to Prudie (3:24)
  • Jocelyn and Greg (2:09)
  • February Reading (1:13)
  • Daniel Breaks Up (1:33)
  • March Book Club (0:29)
  • Changing Clothes (0:33)
  • Jocelyn Gets Vulnerable (1:13)
  • Ten Days with Mother (0:36)
  • Bernadette and Prudie (2:08)
  • June Book Club (0:29)
  • Sylvia and Jocelyn (1:09)
  • A Little Romance (0:43)
  • At the Bar (0:42)
  • Porch Intrique (0:31)
  • Grigg Emails (1:20)
  • Sky Has to Leave (1:26)
  • Daniel Crossing (0:54)
  • The Traffic Light (0:30)
  • April Book Club (0:29)
  • The Funeral (0:33)
  • May Book Club (0:45)
  • The Jane Austen Book Club Ending (2:57)
  • Allegra Ticked Off (0:45)
  • Trash in Car (0:18)
  • Head on Daniel (1:12)
  • Excuse Us (0:44)

Running Time: 33 minutes 08 seconds

Varese Sarabande VSD-6856 (2007)

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