I just saw "Becoming Jane" and I think that you should see it. Seriously. You should.
I’m just a big geek, really. A geek who worships Miss Jane Austen, specifically (I have a couple of seriously highlighted copies of P&P, for instance). But enough about me, because this is for you, dear reader.
Especially if you’re a Jane Austen fan, and if you have two X chromosomes, and if you like a movie that will make you swoon and period costumes and Regency-dress balls all that good stuff, you should DEFINITELY go see this movie. Gentlemen, you will like it too, as it features boxing. Also, if you –unprompted– decide to take your lady love to see this movie, I can almost guarantee you will be very happy by the end of the date.
No thanks necessary, friend.
Contraindications: You should not see it if you have problems with little details such as the suspension of disbelief or badly-applied aging makeup (that’s all I’ll say because I’m trying to keep this spoiler-free).
Let me backtrack: the buzz that is surrounding this movie, while it seems quite positive, is that it’s too fictional. Austen scholars (a.k.a. Geeks For Pay) claim that the plot deviates from Austen’s real life in some pivotal places such as whether Jane Austen had read Tom Jones before or after meeting the man who presumably was the love of her life –the consensus here is that she’d read it before they met; and whether he really was, in fact, the love of her life or just someone with whom she had a brief flirtation.
I feel I should add the following notes: Yes, children. Tom Jones isn’t just a Welshman with a large panty collection. Oh, and also that those geeks are always ruining everything: bear in mind that there are very few documents in existence that tell us very much about what kind of person Jane Austen was, or how she thought or what she did or about her daily life. Certainly, there were no tabloids following her around to document how bad a driver she was.
Back to the movie: the reason the movie is 95% wonderful (the 5% being that odd bit with the aging makeup that I shall no longer bring up) is that you can pretend that this happened. You can suspend your disbelief and watch as the lovely Anne Hathaway –who looks milky-white and just-bitten honest-to-goodness lovely– plays Jane Austen and goes from a girl who is "accomplished at writing" to a true writer with the heavy weight of heartache inside of her. And it’s just wooooooooonderful to swoon along with her and pine away for Tom Lefoy (played by the easy-on-the-eyes and thoroughly purrable James McAvoy).
Close your eyes and think of pining away for Darcy– c’monnnnn….. Colin Firth!– and it’s kinda like that only that, you know, different. Don’t make me overexplain and reveal possible spoilers here, okay?
Yeah. You’ll have fun.
But seriously, it’s a true delight to see snippets and bits of scenes from her books –most notably the awesome Pride and Prejudice—and imagine that they came about as bits of conversations or direct quotes from those who surrounded Jane in her life. And it’s crushing to see how the story unfolds, but at the same time you know it must unfold as it does because this is a verisimilitude of her real life –critics notwithstanding– and you know that despite what your yearnings, or those of Jane or Tom are she died relatively young and unmarried.
And I guess that’s what makes this movie wonderful: the crux of the premise is that we do know more than we think about Jane Austen: she wrote of what she was, what she saw, and the society she kept and that which she imagined from reading others’ novels. Her novels and her heroines are facets of herself and keys to what she might have lived– though they were stories with the happy ending that eluded her in her own life.
Thank you for getting this far and thank you to Mother Talk for including this blog in their "Becoming Jane" blog tour.
What are you still doing sitting here? You have a movie to watch!
Pee Ess: Bring a hanky.