Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen
I have finally gotten round to watching Becoming Jane! (Thanks, Bec!) Surely I must be one of the last Janeites on earth to have seen this!
As I'm sure most of you will know, Becoming Jane is loosely (emphasis on the word loosely) based upon the life of Jane Austen, more particularly her supposed romance with Tom Lefroy. I had of course heard a lot about this movie, and how it had enraged so many Janeites. . . It was for this reason that I have been a little hesitant to watch it, afraid that I would dislike it, and its depiction of Jane. But, today, feeling in a relatively open-minded, non-judgmental mood (in fact, feeling just plain sick and miserable with a cold, and in want of some pleasant diversion), I finally got out my headphones and my sister's laptop and sat down to watch. [I wrote most of this review a couple of weeks ago, and am now quite recovered from my cold. :-) ~Elise]
I loved it! Well, I didn't love it, but I liked it very much indeed.
Julie Walters as Mrs. Austen
I know a bit about Jane Austen's life - I've seen a couple of documentaries, and read a little bit here and there - but I haven't read any full-length biographies or done any serious research (yet). I think this was probably a good thing in this instance - while I knew that this was not necessarily a very accurate depiction of Jane's early life, I was able to (mostly) just enjoy the movie for what it was, without nitpicking over inaccurate or unconfirmed details. I knew just enough, however, to relish seeing Jane and her family brought to life on the screen - particularly Jane's parents, her brother Henry, and sister Cassandra. . . Though they didn't show as much of Cassandra here as I thought they might - perhaps there'll be more emphasis put on Jane's and Cassandra's relationship in Miss Austen Regrets (next on my to-watch list). And last but not least, a brief cameo from Mrs. Radcliffe (Helen McCrory) herself!
James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy
Acting-wise, all the costume drama veterans present were excellent, as usual. Anne Hathaway was also surprisingly good. James McAvoy was VERY good, and there was great chemistry between him and Ms Hathaway.
The cinematography was gorgeous. . . I was pleasantly surprised, the film was much more artistically done (and less Hollywood-ised) than I had expected. I liked the costumes, too - more subdued than those in Pride & Prejudice 2005, and yet just original and unconventional enough to be interesting - besides being very pretty. (I daresay they aren't historically accurate or consistent, but I'm no historical clothing expert, so that didn't bother me too much!) Becoming Jane is now possibly in my top five Regency films for costumes - and that's saying a lot, considering how many I've seen!
The score - often a deal-breaker with me, I love a good movie soundtrack - was lovely. Not too flowery, just subtly complementing the film. Composer Adrian Johnston is also the man behind the deliciously dark score of my fave Dickens adaptation - Our Mutual Friend!
Cassandra Austen (left) - brilliantly played by Anna Maxwell Martin
Interestingly enough, Becoming Jane smacks more of Bronte-ism than Jane-ism. The script is not as witty as one might expect of a movie about that wittiest and most ironic of all authors, Jane Austen. Most of the wit here comes directly from Jane Austen's novels, with various familiar lines interspersed throughout the film - some feeling rather out place. In some respects, I think the semi-biographical Mansfield Park 1999 does a better job of capturing Jane and her sense of humour - though that film was certainly not without its flaws, either.
Becoming Jane is. . . imaginative, impressionistic, sad, poignant, beautiful. Recommended if you feel you can just enjoy it as a bittersweet period romance, rather than a Jane Austen biopic.
Recommended for mature teens and up. It only received a PG rating in Australia and America, but be warned that it is quite a "mature" PG! Christian movie reviews of Becoming Jane:
Charity's Place | Christianity Today | Plugged In
Now, to watch Miss Austen Regrets!
Just a couple of random thoughts to finish - do comment and let me know whether you agree with me or not!
Laurence Fox as Mr. Wisley
-Poor Mr. Wisley! Was he really all that bad? I thought he might have been alright beneath the cold, "boring" exterior.
-As I watched Becoming Jane, I thought there was something different in the atmosphere of the film - I mean different to the oodles of Austen adaptations shot in beautiful English pastoral settings - but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. After I finished, I found out that Becoming Jane was shot in Ireland! Maybe that's what it was! It's hard to explain, and it's possibly just my imagination, but there was just something subtly different about the countryside, that lent the film a more "fairytale-ish", less prosaic air. And yes, I know that much of Northanger Abbey 2007 was shot in Northern Ireland, but NA tended to have more of an "urban" setting, so the effect was less pronounced.
-"Old" Jane's hairstyle at the very end. . . (!!!) Seemed more 1930s than 1810s to me!
All pictures from SharonaLee.gallery.ru