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Film Reviews Becoming Jane is a love story which takes place in the late 1800's. Film News And Views - Film Reviews - Becoming Jane is a love story which takes place in the late 1800's. Film Reviews,,Becoming Jane is a love story which takes place in the late 1800's.,recommendation,shopping,advice,simple,movies,films,film news and views,news and views,film industy,movie reviews,film news,film,news,views,television,made for tv movies,interactive entertainment,hollywood,hollywood news,celebrity news,insiders perspective,film reviewer,watch film,film trailer,new releases,new release,new release movie,new release film,movie reviewer,opinion,viewpoint,forum,discussion
Becoming Jane is a love story which takes place in the late 1800's.

by Robin Rowe on Aug 03, 2007

In Becoming Jane, the year is 1795 and Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) is a feisty 20-year-old aspiring writer who dreams of marrying for love. Her parents (Julie Walters and James Cromwell) notice Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox), nephew to local aristocratic dragon Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith). Jane prefers the roguish Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy). Jane Austen is one of the most loved authors in English literature and there’s much to like about the juicy premise of this movie.

<>Becoming Jane is a love story between Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen and James McAvoy as the roguish Irish lawyer Tom Lefroy. Instead of Shakespeare in Love, this is Jane Austen in love. In real life, Jane Austen was a prolific writer of letters. Most of Jane’s letters were burned by her sister Cassandra late in life. Were Austen’s letters scandalous? <> 

Becoming Jane was shot in Dublin’s unblemished Georgian architecture, where terraced streets such as Henrietta Street and landmarks such as City Hall still retain the essence of 1795. After a lengthy search throughout Ireland, Higginsbrook House near Trim in County Meath, a middle-sized home that dates from 1747, was selected to portray the Austen family home. <> 

Anne Hathaway (The Devil Wears Prada and The Princess Diaries) considers Jane Austen one of her heroes. “I was very excited to present a woman who was flesh and blood and not simply someone who had an icy wit and tea running through her veins”, says Hathaway. “I wanted to show her as a very modern woman, a woman who truly had a sense of her own worth and seemed to know the value of love, even in those times.” <> 

There’s great chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Scottish actor James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland). McAvoy as Tom Lefroy recommends Jane broaden her writing horizons by reading the scandalous Tom Jones. McAvoy plays well against Hathaway. “I don’t think we could have chosen anyone better to play Jane Austen”, says McAvoy. There are stolen glances and tantalizingly close encounters, but Becoming Jane draws short of the requited passion of Shakespeare in Love. <> 

Screenwriters Sarah Williams and Kevin Hood took the incident of one of Austen’s youthful flirtations (revealed in two of her few surviving letters) and turned it into romantic fiction. “I was so impressed with how intelligently written the script was and how emotional and passionate it was”, says Hathaway. “What I also loved about it was that it captured a young couple falling deeply in love with each other. That appealed to me and also the fact that it didn’t have a fairytale ending.” Parts of the screenplay are memorable, even brilliant, yet other places such as the boxing scenes are a miss.

Screenwriter Williams approached producers Douglas Rae and Robert Bernstein of Ecosse Films, who had made another unlikely love story between historical figures for Mrs. Brown with Judi Dench as Queen Victoria. The producers chose director Julian Jarrold, who had directed Kinky Boots, a comedy about a female impersonator who inspires a shoe factory. Becoming Jane has the same garish modern look as Kinky Boots, a look the producers sought to try to re-define what a Jane Austen movie looks like. The harsh dark lighting and lensing don’t make the best use of the beauty of Anne Hathaway. Visually, I expected much more. And, likewise for the music. Becoming Jane quite noticeably lacks the sophisticated musical scoring of Pride & Prejudice, of either the movie or the mini-series.

<>The movie trailer would have you believe this is a cheery romantic comedy, but there’s a deliberate melancholy to Becoming Jane. The middle is cheery and fun certainly, but the beginning is slow and dark, and the ending more so. This isn’t the kind of consistently cheery upbeat tale that audiences expect of a modern Jane Austen film. More in keeping with Charles Dickens than Jane Austen, fans are unlikely to appreciate that this movie is on the dark art house side. Becoming Jane feels more like the movie Miss Potter, a movie about the unrequited love of a later popular British author, Beatrix Potter. Be prepared for as much of Austen’s gothic novel Northanger Abbey as of Pride & Prejudice. <> 

Jane Austen was more fun-loving than some think. “In some of her own letters she wrote about how she was hung over after attending a ball and that’s not something that we necessarily think of when we think about Austen”, says Hathaway. Ultimately, it isn’t that the movie strays too far away from what we expect of Jane Austen, rather that it strays from what we expect of a Jane Austen movie. 3 stars ***

Robin Rowe is a journalist, a screenwriter, and co-founder of the 1,800-member filmmakers association ScreenplayLab.


 

 

  May 26, 2019

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