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Becoming Jane: Read a Book Instead

In Becoming Jane, the filmmakers purport that a possible love affair Jane Austen may or may not have had with roguish Irish lawyer Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) was the fodder for all of Austen's love-fueled novels. Weaving together fact and fiction (along with bits of Austen's well-known works), the movie is at best an adequate romantic drama of star-crossed lovers, presumably presenting the reasoning behind why Austen indulged her characters and gave them "all they desired." At worst, it's watching Anne Hathaway give a surprisingly and disappointingly charmless, humorless performance as one of the world's most beloved authors.

One of several children in a family of modest means, Austen grew up at a time when the wise, diligent thing for young ladies to do was to marry into a wealthy man's family, relieving her own family of the burden of one more mouth to feed. Becoming Jane puts forth the love affair Austen enjoyed with Tom McFroy as her one opportunity to marry for love, though other marriage proposals that don't interest young Jane also come her way. The story is basically about the "for love or money" conundrum, and it is visually interesting — the chilly, milk-white English atmosphere lending a kind of sad beauty to it all. Yet playing the central character, Anne Hathaway falls flat as Jane Austen, commanding little authority and making Austen seem like quite the bland character. To find out more about why,

Despite Austen's famed wit, there is nary a sparkle in Hathaway's eye, her performance so dull one wonders if anybody would care about this story in the least if her character's name were not Jane Austen. I found myself desperately wishing someone else had played the role — particularly someone who is actually British or could at least achieve the accent more successfully than Hathaway could, as her accent is irritatingly spotty. Emily Mortimer could have been a welcome replacement, for example.

The best part of the whole thing is James McAvoy playing Tom Lefroy: skinny, one might say twirpish, but with an intensely mesmerizing gaze. Boyish, but fearless, daring, and quite sexy. As the object of Austen's affections, he's challenging and exciting. However, again, the way Hathaway portrays Austen, it's difficult to see what would be attractive about her to Lefroy. I'd hoped the film would have charmed me as much as Austen's writing does, but to my dismay I found myself wishing I'd spent the two hours with one of her novels rather than watching Becoming Jane.


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starturtle44 starturtle44 8 years
I liked this movie a lot. And I thought Anne did a good job of potraying a conflicted Austen. I thought is was understated and charming. I was wary they would make Jane too brash and too witty, which would never have been acceptable at the time for a woman, authoress or not.
keli0k keli0k 8 years
Darn... I've been looking forward to this movie for months!
buch1979 buch1979 8 years
So sad I love Jane Austen, and period drama I guess I'll wait till the DVD release.
Malouski Malouski 8 years
Are you kidding me with this review?! I loved the movie! 4 out of 5 stars But yes, they could have found a better actress to play Miss Austen... then again, when you have James McAvoy, who cares about the rest of the cast... heh
Dannie037 Dannie037 8 years
i didn't think it was that bad...but its always better in my opinion to read a book rather than watch a movie
Dannie037 Dannie037 8 years
i didn't think it was that bad...but its always better in my opinion to read a book rather than watch a movie
SassAndBide SassAndBide 8 years
i'd rather watch hot rod 100x than see this.
katygirlthing katygirlthing 8 years
shame. youre right though, they should have gotten a british actress to do it. she sounds terrible.
craving_vintage craving_vintage 8 years
I got my books. :) So, I'll be reading Jane instead of watching Jane. Woohoo!
mominator mominator 8 years
I will still watch this. It looks like a movie that should come on Turner Classic or something so I will not go see it in theaters but rent it when it's out. I can't wait I like stories like these.
clarapl clarapl 8 years
I still can't get over the fact that they would have an AMERICAN actress play Jane Austen! That's reason enough to boycott it.
Penny4545 Penny4545 8 years
i was really hoping this would be a great movie... i've been re-reading jane austen's novels since the 6th grade and it bothers me when people don't do her work justice. i enjoyed kiera knightly in P&P. I was hoping i'd enjoy this just as much even though i'm not a fan of anne's. maybe i'll wait for it to be on dvd and rent it.
KerryG KerryG 8 years
Dang, I was hoping this would be good. Guess I'll wait for DVD. :(
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
I thought Anne Hathaway doing an English accent might be sketchy. She uses the same speaking style in every movie. From Princess, to Havoc to Prada. All three completely different characters, all sound exactly the same. She's just not a good actress.
lucyS lucyS 8 years
What a disappointing review. I was sooooooooooo looking forward to this movie. Now it's on my dvd list.
figurine figurine 8 years
I still have hope and dayum, McAvoy is a pretty boy.
designergirl designergirl 8 years
I really wanted this movie to be good... guess I'll wait for the dvd.
beingtazim beingtazim 8 years
thats too bad, Buzz! i also hate when the actor/actress can't pull off an accent - isn't that all part of acting??? i guess one can always watch it for the costuming?! :)
flowergirl flowergirl 8 years
Regardless... I'm so excited for this movie!!
craving_vintage craving_vintage 8 years
I still don't like her that much but I love period films and might check it out when it comes to dvd. But I am already planning on reading two JA books, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. :)
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
Im gonna go see it anyway! I am/was excited for this, but thanks for the heads up buzz! I will lower my expectations
hulachic hulachic 8 years
what?! i loved this movie! i thought the chemistry between anne hathaway and james mcavoy was incredible, and while it was a bit slow in parts, i really enjoyed it in the end. i was so into this movie that i almost cried at the end. i would definitely see becoming jane again.
SweetE SweetE 8 years
Sad! I was really looking forward to this...it still looks a little better than Bratz ;)
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