Jane is a biography of the life of author Jane Austen,
fictionalized in the way that Austen herself mightíve told it.
Many devout fans of the writer have expressed their discontent
in the pictureís supposed historical inaccuracies and, for all I
know, they may be justified in doing so. However, despite my
limited exposure to Austenís body of work, I still very much
realize that Becoming Jane is of its subjectís spirit.
Austen wrote many stories of this filmís nature, and it does a
solid job of staying true to her personality.
Becoming Janeís aforementioned adherence to the
conventions of the Austenís work becomes both a blessing and a
curse for the picture. While the film invigoratingly captures
the authorís air, it also becomes externally quite derivative.
On the surface, Becoming Jane plays nearly identically to
countless Austen film-adaptations, primarily the 2005 version of
Pride and Prejudice. As Jane (Anne Hathaway) finds
trouble in the social expectations surrounding her forbidden
relationship with a social lesser, Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy),
the whole affair seems all too familiar. In many respects,
Becoming Jane is a flat-out thematic copy of Pride and
Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, rendering its
narrative oftentimes tiresome.
With this in
mind, I find myself in a bit of a critical dilemma. Despite the
fact that Becoming Janeís external plot is somewhat
unoriginal, I admire many of the filmís subtler qualities too
much to not recommend it. In the leading roles, Hathaway and
McAvoy brilliantly internalize their characters. It almost seems
irrational of me to complain about the storyís shortcomings
because, frankly, Becoming Jane isnít about story. Itís
about watching Jane and Tom live two entirely different lives
and, somewhere in the midst of this, discover a true but
impossible love for each other. When it comes to representing
this, Becoming Jane is honest and unrelenting. Hathaway
and McAvoy are perfect in the roles; both performers are
especially effective in their nuanced face-work.
Another thing I
deeply admire about Becoming Jane is that it never
becomes overly showy. Too many period pictures of this sort
derive their entire moods from heavy-handed dialogue and
meaninglessly detailed art direction. Despite implementing a few
technical flourishes (there are a few needless jump-cutting
sequences, in particular), director Julian Jarrold and editor
Emma E. Hickox tone the material down in a way that best
showcases the pictureís greatest asset: the lead performances.
Eigyl Brlydís cinematography, also, is ethereal and beautifully
clear, further setting the stage for Hathaway and McAvoy to
lucidly take internal command over the audience.
it may be on the exterior, Becoming Jane works on the
whole. Hathaway and McAvoy alone had me captivated for the vast
majority of the duration and, thanks to their great
performances, the picture was able to affect me. Whatever its
flaws, Becoming Jane is a film that I think Austen
herself would have approved of.
Review Published on: 8.7.2007
8.6.2007 at the Edwards San Marcos
18 in San Marcos, CA.
Becoming Jane is rated PG-13 and runs
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