Becoming Jane


Directed by: Julian Jarrold
Written by:Kevin Hood, Sarah Williams
Starring: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith, Ian Richardson, Joe Anderson, Laurence Fox, Lucy Cohu
Released: March 29, 2007
Grade: B-

Jane Austen wrote only six novels before her death in 1817.  It has taken time but Austen has become one of history’s most popular authors.  Many have read her books but even more have seen the adaptations made for television and cinema.  My personal favourites were Sense & Sensibility in 1995 (with Emma Thomson and Kate Winslet) and Pride & Prejudice in 2005 (with Keira Knightley).

The time has arrived for a film to be made about Jane Austen herself.  Becoming Jane chronicles the pressure that was placed on her to marry a wealthy gentleman.  If you’ve read one of her novels, this storyline will sound familiar.  I guess she drew on her own experiences when creating her works of fiction.

In this film, the wealthy Mr. Wisley (Fox) has asked Jane (Hathaway) to be his wife.  Despite the pleadings of her family, Jane rejects the offer.  She refuses to marry a man she does not love – even if he can provide financial stability.  She’d rather go unmarried and try to make a living as a writer.

A budding lawyer from London then enters the picture.  His name is Tom Lefroy (McAvoy) and he has been sent to the country by his high-profile uncle (Richardson).  The first meeting between Jane and Tom is anything but pleasant.  He thinks she’s boring and she thinks he’s arrogant.  The two keep bumping into each other however and romance is in the air…

I really struggled to enjoy this film.  One of my major grievances was the casting of American actress Anne Hathaway in the leading role.  She has a decent accent but she looks out of place alongside the otherwise English cast.  Was she selected to help give the film a boost in the United States?  I can only think so because there are many talented English actors who could have done a better job.

I’m usually a fan of period piece movies.  I love the simplicity of their stories and the elegance of their dialogue.  Becoming Jane didn’t live up to my expectations and it couldn’t maintain my interest.  It left me thinking that Austen’s novels were far more exciting than her actual life.