If you are a fan of Jane Austen's work, skip this review. If you continue reading, you will find a review of a partly factual/partly fictional romantic period drama focusing on a small part of Jane Austen's life.
You will also find a movie review written by someone who knows nothing about Jane Austen and has never read any of her novels or other writings (at least not that I can remember). I did see the Bollywood-style take on Pride and Prejudice called Bride and Prejudice, though I doubt that counts. Becoming Jane is the new film in question, and I left the screening conflicted.
Becoming Jane is a movie that features some fantastic shots, a middling romance, good performances, and a sleep-inducing pace. I wanted to like the movie. Both Anne Hathaway (as Jane) and James McAvoy (as would-be suitor Tom Lefroy) are good.The supporting cast is also quite good, in particular Maggie Smith as the superior Lady Gresham.
The cinematography also offers up some great shots, such as when Jane is walking along a beach (viewed from a distance), and the gritty Fight Club-style underground boxing matches that Lefroy likes to engage in. Despite all there is to like, the screenplay moves at a snail's pace and fails to really deliver any insight. I feel as if I have seen this story before, and done better than it is here.
We first meet Jane sitting in a window in the early morning, apparently suffering from a bit of writer's block. She works through this by letting loose her creative juices on a piano, much to the chagrin of the rest of her family so early in the morning. While Jane longs to put creative thought to blank page, her mother (Julie Walters) wishes she would find a husband and marry into some money. This while her father (James Cromwell) says she should follow her heart; money will bring comfort, but it will not fill a heart.
Tom Lefroy is a poor young lawyer, with a reliance on an allowance from his uncle. In an effort to help him get his head on straight, he is sent to spend time with relatives in the country. It is during this supposedly head-clearing trip that he encounters Jane.