Friday, September 12, 2008


When I saw the trailer for this film last summer, I was very enthused. I love Jane Austen and I love looking at Anne Hathaway, especially when she smiles. But alas and alack, the idea of the film largely outshines the actuality of it.

'Becoming Jane' follows a glossy, idealized version of the writer as she struggles along with her large family. The brood lives in comparative poverty, the patriarch being a financially unstable clergyman and the mother, a dismally typical harpie (sorry, Julie). Jane writes to amuse her family and when a distant relative, Thomas Lefoy, visits from the city-her first impression if one of distate at his arrogant attitude. His judgement of her writing, while at first seeming harsh, eventually produces good fruit as Jane finally puts her hand to a story she takes pride in and falls predictably inlove with Thomas. Of cource, family refuses to approve of their marriage on either side and, as we all know, Jane Austen remains unmarried for the rest of her life. Not quite so satisfying as Emma or Pride and Predjudice, but there you have it.

Performances are all pretty good. McEvoy outshines his co-stars. Hathaway's English accent, which I thought seemed natural and polished in Nicholas Nickleby, came across as stiff and inconsistent here. It faltered during her more emotional scenes which is when her acting was actually superior. The rest of the big-name cast isnt given much to do with the spare script that is provided. I felt within the first 10 minutes a sense of familiarity that led me to believe I had heard much of it before. And indeed I have, in the heroine's own novels.

I have problems w/ the direction as well. While the cinematography is brilliant and crisp during the opening scenes, it seemed to become a little dark towards the end of the film and even the beautiful people in the cast began to look haggard. Shots and sequences were commendable and even the scene transitions were extremely smooth. However, I'll be the first to admit I missed Ang Lee's method of bathing his stars in golden sunlight and the sight of Keira Knightly standing against a fabulous landscape. There were some gorgeous moments, but the consistent feeling behind the film was, for me, a little blue.

As a classic love story, it just didnt impress me as particularly memorable or moving. It just 'was'. And whether there is any truth to the tale or not, there is no doubt that the telling of it pales when compared to the stories Jane Austen herself imagined. So it could probably have gone untold.

My rating: 5/10