Click here to read my revised review of Becoming Jane at the Cross Eyed Blog and Webzine!

When most contemporary writers attempt to explore the literary motivations of the renowned Jane Austen, they often follow a nearly stereotypical trend of thinking.  Because she so masterfully portrayed the cliques and prejudice of Regency era society (a study of human nature quite relevant today), it is often assumed that she must have been feministic and somewhat rebellious, or else she would have given a less sharp view of her culture.

I was relieved to see that Becoming Jane does not follow that trend as closely as one might expect.  The young Jane (played by American actress Anne Hathaway – who did surprisingly well in my opinion) is seen as quiet, introspective and slightly eccentric, but not rebellious.  She is a middle class country girl, content as long as she is allowed to be.  She is happy for her elder sister Cassandra’s initial engagement, and of course, very absorbed in her writing.

Jane – unique and eccentric to family and friends, but not rebellious

The elements of the film that began to confuse me were that of Mrs. Austen’s rash, unsympathetic attitude towards Jane and her literary talent as well as her “Mrs. Bennet” like behavior.  At certain points of the movie I almost thought I was watching one of Jane Austen’s novels being played out on the screen.  From what I read years ago, the Austen family was not nearly as tense and socialite bound as the characters of Jane’s novels.  I’m sure that she based some of her writings on experiences in her life, but I doubt they were that autobiographical.

When the dashing and worldly young lawyer Tom Lefroy (played by Scottish actor James McAvoy, also quite well) bounds into the scene, the atmosphere becomes amusingly more conflicting.  His elite character slyly taunts Jane, as he tells her she needs to “have her horizons widened” and learn more about “the real world”.  Some of the best dialogue scenes in the film are her clever rebuttals to his argument for worldly novels.

The dashing and worldly Tom Lefroy

The story follows the gradually intertwining lives of these two very different characters as they both experience the typical money/family struggle and each learn a thing or two about propriety.  The expected romantic plot eventually sets in.  Not surprisingly, the match is unfavorable to aware superiors.  Contemporary cinematic patterns of passion and tragedy begin to rise, with a thread of history still left.  Cassandra’s fiance dies on a mission trip, and Jane is pressured to marry a “Mr. Collins” type suitor.  Tom Lefroy pursuades Jane to elope with him, hoping they will escape their trials and tribulations.

As they are part way along in their rendezvous to Ireland, the breathless and passionate Jane becomes the wise and sensible Jane who realizes her foolishness and decides she cannot do such a thing to her family and the Lefroy family.  She returns to her home, much to the relief of her family, particularly her mother, who has also sobered down substantially.

While the movie attempts to make some interesting use of the more obscure issues in Jane Austen’s life, it is still a conventional movie about an unconventional authoress.  You will walk away feeling like you haven’t exactly learned much about the writer herself, but because no one claims to really know much about her, there isn’t a whole lot to say on the matter.  The acting is good, dialogue witty, characters believable and plot surprising.  There is a brief 1-second-or-so long unnecessary thematic element or two not worth discussing, but beyond that the movie is about as nice as any little paperback historical fiction novel.

I read about the film in a screenwriting newsletter some time before I watched it.  The critics praised screenwriters Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams for not being “slaves to history” and instead using it as “a launching pad to combine threads and events into a much tighter story for the screen”.  While dramatizing history you have no choice but to take a little artistic license in order to make a long story fit into an interesting 2-hour segment.  But you have to remember that you are still telling a story about an actual person – not a figment of your imagination…and most of the time the more historically probable is actually more intriguing to the audience that is interested in the historically based film in the first place.

One interesting point the secular critics did make was, “What makes this love story stand out, odd as it may sound, is the complete lack of physicality between Jane and Tom…only a handful of stolen kisses. They walk chastely though the woods and along streams. They discuss books. Some of their most physical interactions are the various society dances they attend…Keeping to the sensibilities the real Ms. Austen became known for…this screenplay is all about language and subtlety…”

Perhaps a little path has been paved for more becoming dramas rather than trashy flicks.

Becoming Jane – a conventional movie about an unconventional authoress

MAY GOD BLESS,

~Amanda~

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Comments

Saturday, September 29, 2007 – Hello

Posted by nancysnook
Thanks for the email notification of your blog update! I was very pleasantly surprised to hear from you. Thank you so much~

Nancy
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Sunday, September 30, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by Bluejane
That is the first time I have heard good of that movie. Everyone I have talked to did not like the movie at all, and did not recomend it.

It was interesting to heir what you had to say about it,

Bluejane
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007 – Howdy!

Posted by melarooski
Nice meeting you too! 🙂

Though I’ve not seen that movie, nor, most likely, ever will, I must say that was a very well written movie review. Your thoughts seemed biased neither for nor against it. An honest look at it with an open mind and from many different angles as well.

Very nice!

-Melanie

P.S. As far as templates go, your lavender rose template is very lovely. Suits my taste quite well. 🙂
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by BlogBoy
Great quotes, I’ll be writing the next entry of the series soon.

NJAO will be starting back up in the winter.

Eric
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by ChristineDaae
Hello,

We saw the movie Becoming Jane. There were several bad parts in it though so we are not really recommending it to other people. Without the scenes that were in it, it would have been a great movie. I wish they wouldn’t have put those in!

God Bless,
Christine
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by BlogBoy
RYC: I know! Totally! Go IM! 😉 Paul uses “ha ha ha” a lot.

Eric
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Thursday, October 4, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by SandBetweenMyToes
Please stop by and wish DancingFeet a Happy Birthday today. You can see some of her baby pictures on my blog at SandBetweenMyToes.

Thanks,
Her mom
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Thursday, October 4, 2007 – Untitled Comment

Posted by christianmusician1
I have seen that movie. I thought the acting was superb, the music, beautiful, and the scenery, breathtaking. The thing that bothered me was that “one scene” and some of the conversations contained vulgar, unnescary implications of the “real world’. Over all I liked it. I cried, I laughed, and it was just one of those movies, but still there are defiently a few querks to keep in mind. God bless.

Arya