Lost in Austen

Have you seen Lost in Austen, the ITV satire of Pride and Prejudice? When shown on TV, I believe it was in episodes, but the DVD runs continuously as though it were a movie. After watching about 45 minutes of it, I was convinced I wouldn’t like it.

The crux of the story is that Amanda (the main character) and  Elizabeth Bennet basically change places. Amanda falls into the world of P&P. Not just into the world, but into the story itself. The whole thing begins when Elizabeth magically appears in Amanda’s twenty-first century bathroom.

The idea of Lizzy showing up in Amanda’s bathroom seemed ridiculous, and Amanda’s explanation of her presence among the Bennets, dressed in contemporary clothes, strained. And then there was that awful scene when Amanda reveals something of herself to Lydia that is, well, TMI. And there’s really never a believable explanation of the whereabouts of Elizabeth.

But somewhere along the way, I began to like it.

Initially, Amanda believes her mission is to correct everything that is not working out as it does in the novel. So, when Bingley is attracted to her, she steers him to Jane. Just as in the novel, Darcy separates Jane and Bingley.  Subsequently, Jane agrees to marry Mr. Collins, because she believes by doing so she will save Longbourn for the family. Charlotte Lucas goes off to Africa as a missionary. Wickham is a delightful rogue. Mr. Collins has three brothers who are even more repugnant that he himself. Lady Catherine is not nearly so hateful as in the novel. In other words, everything is topsy turvy. As Amanda tries to prod everybody in the right direction, things simply become worse or morph into something unrecognizable to her.

Meanwhile, Darcy is falling in love with Amanda. At first, they hate each other. Darcy is rude to her, leaving her alone on the dance floor in the middle of a set, chastising her for her foul language, and judging–misjudging–her. Amanda remains determined to unite Elizabeth and Darcy, even as it’s dawning on her that Darcy loves her and she very much wants to love him back. After all, she’s been longing for the manners, the civility, and the “love matches” of Jane Austen’s world.

Jemima Rooper as Amanda grows on you. All except the hair; I never got used to the modern haircut and bangs. Elliot Cowan, suffice it to say, is all you would want in an actor playing Darcy! The production is whimsical, charming, funny. And sweet…maybe most importantly, sweet.

So was it thumbs up or down for you?

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