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August 2007

By Krista Vitola


Distributor: Miramax Films
Director: Julian Jarrold
Screenwriter: Sarah Williams, Kevin Hood
Cast: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith
MPAA Rating: PG (for brief nudity and mild language)




Filmed in both the UK and in the United States, Becoming Jane is the background story of the brilliant 19th century British women writer, Jane Austen, whose romantic tales of love, loss, and desire have captured the hearts of many readers to this day. The film, which showcases the burning love affair Ms. Austen had with a Mr. Lefroy, parallels many of the premises Austen used in her novels.

Unfortunately, if the audience knows anything about Ms. Austen’s work they will see that the film has twisted the factual information, such as the order in which Jane Austen wrote her books, to state that Pride and Prejudice was her first novel and therefore a direct result of Austen’s torrid love affair (don’t worry we are still in PG mode, c’mon it’s the 19th century). Although Pride and Prejudice does reflect her life more so than her other tales, it was her second novel.

So as audience members watch the film they feel as if they know what will happen at the end, unfortunately reality isn’t as idealistic as fiction. And at times the agonizing relationship Ms. Austen (Anne Hathaway) and Mr. Lefroy (Tom McAvoy) have, due to their limited monetary means, seem to parallel the films length.

Full of brilliant cast members such as Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, and of course the lovely Anne Hathaway, I questioned myself as to why they would have chosen an American girl to be in the lead British role. Hathaway did a great job but if any members of the audience have seen the film Pride and Prejudice, they will find themselves comparing Hathaway to Keira Knightly and her poignant role in that film. In fact, they will probably be comparing the two films constantly. The problem is both films deal with almost the exact subject matter, location, and culture.

Moving at times, the film is on the cusp of something great if there was some editing and maybe a little twist in the storyline. Although a writer’s life often reflects the work she/he has done, we’ve seen this story before and honestly repeats aren’t as entertaining.