Jane Austen was not your typical English girl for her era; she was reaching the age that society deemed she’d need to be married or she’d never be married, she had suitors she didn’t want, and she wanted to write. However, soon Jane meets Tom Lefroy, an impulsive poor lawyer and the two fall madly in love. Their romance meets rejection at every turn and Jane begins one of her most popular novels Pride & Prejudice based on the experience.
Becoming Jane is yet another in a long line of Jane Austen movies, though the obvious bent in this particular film is to show the similarities between the life of Jane Austen and her fiction. While I cannot say this film is a failure, as obviously what occurs in the film is framed on Austen’s life, but I can say that the film was not as engaging as I hoped it would be.
What struck me as strange was that one of the issues I had with Becoming Jane was an issue I had with Brokeback Mountain: the two romantic leads meet each other and without any real impetus or motivation besides the writer needing a story beat, they are suddenly, madly, deeply in love and we as an audience are asked to buy it. It’s instantaneous, they are friends then suddenly one character kisses another and the next thing we know they are professing their undying love. My problem is that this moment doesn’t play as genuine because it comes out of left field and it’s the moment that the rest of the film hinges on.
Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy are two actors I could watch in just about any role and they are also fantastic in Becoming Jane. I’m not sure they had a great romantic chemistry in this film, but both are enormously talented and made their relationship onscreen work.
While I don’t think that Becoming Jane was a waste of my time, I do think that if I want a Jane Austen fix I will just watch a version of Pride & Prejudice.
Director: Julian Jarrold
Writers: Kevin Hood & Sarah Williams
Jane Austen: Anne Hathaway
Tom Lefroy: James McAvoy
Mrs. Austen: Julie Walters
Rev. Austen: James Cromwell
Lady Gresham: Maggie Smith
Jane: My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire.