Jane Austen believes in love. Her parents want her
to marry for money and in 1795 England that was the way of
the world for a young woman. But when the 20-year-old meets
the dashing young Irish-man, Tom Lefroy, his intellect and
arrogance ignite Jane's curiosity and her world spins head-over-heels.
Can Jane afford to spurn the offer of Lady Gresham's nephew,
defy the authority of her parents and fly in the face of social
convention? In BECOMING JANE, a young lady on the first rung
of literary greatness risks a romance that was to shape her
life and her work.
While this reviewer has been telling readers that he doesn’t
read too many books, he continues to believe that what he
needs to know, he can get from movies. Which is why, a period
piece like this proves to be of great help when it comes to
situations where he has to converse with others about sophisticated
issues like English literature, fine art, and well, the life
of a certain iconic female author named Jane Austen.
Directed by Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots), this 120 minute
attempts to shed light on Austen’s love life, We all
know that Austen is feisty and against the norm of things.
She dreams of being free from pride and prejudice and wishes
to marry for, gasp, love. And in a classic scenario, we have
two suitors for the famous writer. Suitor number one is the
son of a rich aristocrat. Suitor number two is a charismatic
young man who, well, isn’t very wealthy. So how has
this dilemma for lifelong happiness affected Austen’s
The main draw of this somewhat lengthy movie has to be its
star studded cast. The ever luminous Anne Hathaway (Brokeback
Mountain, The Princess Diaries) is lovely as the spirited
author. The up and coming James McAvoy (Atonement, The Last
King of Scotland) is charming as Austen’s true love
Tom Lefroy. Heavyweights like Julie Walters (Billy Elliot),
James Cromwell (The Queen) and Maggie Smith (Gosford Park)
fill out the roles of Austen’s parents and Suitor Number
One’s aunt nicely. The chemistry between the actors
(especially between the increasingly appealing Hathaway and
McAvoy) are good, and should please romantic die hards.
While there is nothing to complain about the very impressive
performance by the cast, the movie may not be everyone’s
cup of tea. It is not everyday that you’d get terribly
excited about Austen’s early life – unless you
are a history student who finds such unproven events remarkably
fascinating. The screenplay was inspired by autobiographies
and letters written by the great Austen herself, and this
is a must watch for all self respecting Austen fan. Kudos
goes to the art direction and intricate replication of the
18th century’s wardrobe and sets. The delicate score
by Adrian Johnston is also pleasant to the ears.
It’s high time this reviewer gives up his sloppy lifestyle
and indulges in something more scholarly. Yes, he started
by sitting through this movie. Next, he’d need to move
on to actually reading Austen’s novels.
disc’s visual transfer complements the luscious landscape
cinematography, while it is presented only in its original
English audio track.
Review by John Li