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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Becoming Jane - A Review

It is a truth universally (well at least within my inner circle of friends and relations) acknowledged that I was going to hate this movie. Indeed. Well, there were some things in it that I quite enjoyed. Like the cast (except for Anne Hathaway, but I'll get to her later), the cricket scene, the portrayal of Henry & Eliza, and the scenes of Cassandra's loss which did make my eyes sufficiently well up. But overall I am quite disappointed in the film. I tried my damnedest, really I did, to watch it objectively, but then the filmmakers would do something that would get my Janeite brain going and dampen my spirits. For example, early on when Jane overhears Mr. Lefroy's dismissal of her writing and proceeds to go upstairs, rip up what she had just written as an engagement present to her beloved sister, and then go through all her other writing that she has hidden away in a trunk and question them too??? Give me a freaking break! Jane Austen would not have given a whit about what a latecoming, rude, stranger thought about her writing! Even if he was as cute as James McAvoy. And then later when she excuses herself quite rudely in front of Lady Gresham and her nephew in order to plop down on a bench and quickly jot down some notes for later use?? Um, no. Jane was a private writer. She wrote at her desk in her room and left the door to said room with a squeak in it so she would know when someone was coming in and could hide her pages away! And the idea that Lefroy widens Jane's horizons by giving her Tom Jones to read? I'm sorry but if you read the letters where Jane Austen actually mentions Tom Lefroy on which supposedly this film is based she compares the color of Lefroy's coat to that of one worn by Tom Jones in the book! Which would mean she had already read the novel before she even met Lefroy, not at all suprising since her entire family were avid readers and Tom Jones was one of the most popular novels of its day.

I know, I know, here is me nitpicking right? Ok, I'll try to leave the historical inaccuracies aside. How about Anne Hathaway's acting? Does she really think a furrowed brow is all the acting necessary to get across every emotion? Oh, in this scene I'm angry, I better furrow my brow. Now I'm sad, a furrowed brow will do nicely. Oh now I'm worried, again a furrow of the brow should suffice! Her accent was perfectly fine, I just wish she had a little more depth. I did love James Cromwell and Julie Walters as Reverand and Mrs. Austen. Perfect casting. I additionally enjoyed the actress who played Cassandra although I felt her and Jane's relationship was kind of put to the side. In real life these two sisters were inseperable when together and when apart, wrote to each other constantly. The filmmakers could have made that more evident. And don't get me started on the so-called Jane is an older woman epilogue!

I've decided in this review not to go into the particulars of the Jane Austen/Tom Lefroy flirtation that suddenly became a full blown romance full of secret rendezvous and near elopments. Obviously this was the route the filmmakers decided to take in order to give us Jane's story. I don't agree with this decision, but it's understandable that they would want to give the author of some of the greatest romances of all time a romance of her very own. I just hope that those that do not know Jane's real story will go in search of it now. Because it is a story worth telling without all the filler. Maybe someday Hollywood will do it justice. Now, I know what you are all thinking: I went in already predisposed to hate the film, right? Of course I wasn't going to like it with this attitude, right? Well, yes that's true! I can't help it! Jane Austen is my favorite author and dear to my heart! I admire her as one of my ultimate heroes! To see her portrayed inaccurately and with little of the wit and vivacity she herself wrote with pains me! So sue me.

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