Well, today, as part of Hamlette's I Love Austen Week, I am going to be reviewing Becoming Jane, the movie which does its best to answer those questions in a (somewhat embellished) version of Jane Austen's life story.
Becoming Jane, directed by Julian Jarrold, tells the story of a young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway), an aspiring authoress who is interested in everything except a loveless marriage. Believing she will be able to live by her pen someday, Jane is not looking for love. However, "when the dashing Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), a reckless and penniless lawyer-to-be, enters Jane's life, he offends the emerging writer's sense and sensibility. Soon their clashing egos set off sparks that ignite a passionate romance and fuel Jane's dream of doing the unthinkable: marrying for love."
This movie, inspired by the true story of Jane Austen's romance, weaves a bittersweet tale of love gained and love lost. While, as I said, it is quite dramatized, the film still remains true to the author's life and feelings (as derived from her novels). Jane clearly expresses that novels should reflect real life (as she shows us in Northanger Abbey) and that sometimes good characters have less-than-ideal endings (poor Charlotte Collins) and bad characters get along better than they deserve (ahem, Mr. Wickham). In the end, however, she decides that her novels will indeed reflect real life, but her heroines will have happy endings.
One thing I love about this movie is how there are several characters that are direct parallels to characters in Ms. Austen's novels. Jane writes down several lines spoken by some of them for later use in her writings and it is implied that her novels each are a bit of her true life story. Perhaps we'll never know how true this is or not, but either way, this is still quite an enjoyable movie.
The costumes are lovely, as are all the sets from the houses to the woods to the ocean. The acting is wonderful, especially from the two leads and the one and only Dame Maggie Smith. And let's not forget the beautiful music which accompanies it.
There are a few mildly inappropriate scenes and few choice words, but it is not enough to garner a PG-13 rating. Overall, though, this is a well-made, beautiful period drama that every Jane Austen fan will have a different opinion of. You'll either love it or you'll hate it. I, for my part, like it very much and give it 4/5 stars.
So what do you think of this movie? What do you like and dislike about it? Tell me in the comments below. Also, make sure you check back to the master post for other reviews, posts, and games all about Jane Austen as a part of I Love Austen Week.