Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Movie Review: Becoming Jane

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I decided to watch Becoming Jane as part of the Everything Austen challenge, but I'm kind of struggling in deciding what to say about it. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. It just gave me a bit of amusement for a couple hours.

For those of you that haven't seen it, Becoming Jane stars Anne Hathaway as a young, pre-fame Jane Austen. She lives in the English countryside (surprise surprise!) with her parents and sister, and she's working on the manuscript for First Impressions, the novel that will later be known as Pride & Prejudice. She strikes up a very Elizabeth/Darcy-esque affair with a young Irish man named Tom (James McAvoy), who is a bit rough around the edges and nothing like Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Having just watched the BBC's 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice, I couldn't help but see the similarities between Becoming Jane and any other Austen work. But, of course, that is the point. You're supposed to see how this way of life and these events served as inspiration for Austen's characters, settings, and plots. 

My favorite part, by far, was the cinematography. It was the first thing I noticed and the aspect of the film that really stood out to me. I think it's almost safe to say that most Austen fans dream of the simplicity, tranquility, and beauty of 19th century English countryside, and Eigil Bryld (the Director of Photography) did a fantastic job of highlighting the setting. It reminded me occasionally of Terrence Malick films—long segments of one scenic shot after another. The film opened with such a montage, and I think it did a great job of setting the scene.

While Austen's writing has a great grasp on human emotion, I can't say the endings to her novels are always realistic. She writes the ending you want to read; things work out and people end up happy, almost a fairy tale ending. I like that this movie, because it was a bio-pic of sorts, stayed realistic, yet it points out that this is the point of books and stories—to escape reality.

3 comments:

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Great review! I was all set to dislike the film, but was really quite charmed by it as well.

Salvatore said...

I just saw the tagline to the film at the bottom of the poster. How wildly ridiculous.

Maggie Smith and James McAvoy...I had no idea. Sounds amusing at the very least.

vvb32 reads said...

along with the cinematography i liked the soundtrack too. just noticed the tagline from the comment above - LOL. for the most part, i liked this story for its "what if" question it brings. what if jane ran off with james mcavoy (i mean, Tom)???