Becoming Jane
Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

Golden Mug

Costume Design (Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh)

Theatrical Release Date: 08/10/2007
Director: Julian Jarrold
Cast: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, James Cromwell

According to the epilogue of “Becoming Jane”, Jane Austen has written six of the greatest novels in the English language.

I can name “Pride & Prejudice” and “Sense & Sensibility” … Elizabeth Edgemont remembered “Emma” after hearing her mother call for the family dog but after that, we’re at a loss.

Really, SIX? That’s a lot of credit to give an author. I know Hollywood feels that way because her novels keep getting remade into films but I’m still a little flabbergasted.

One thing is clear: apparently Jane Austen’s life was very much like her fictional creations. “Becoming Jane” is almost “Pride & Prejudice”, only the ending has been changed because life isn’t always a fairy tale.

If what was presented on-screen was accurate, Austen used the hardships in her own life to breathe life and realism into the characters she created on paper. That’s true of all authors though so what separates this film from any other biopic?

The answer is “not much”.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like here – especially if you’re a fan of her work. It plays very much like most other Austen film adaptations. Hathaway is endearing and her accent is very good. McAvoy is up to par as well and their chemistry works.

The more veteran actors (Walters, Smith & Cromwell) are all excellent, providing their usual best. More amusing is having Walters and Smith in the same film again. I was almost hoping that Austen would run away to Hogwart’s Academy … but alas, there are no dragons, house elves or hippogriffs here.

However, while the performances, production design and costuming aspects are good, I found this a little too paint-by-numbers for me.

You see where the film is going and because it’s littered with Austen wit and the real English language, I often found myself wanting to skip to the end and for the characters to stop nibbling around the edges and cut to the chase.

But that’s the Austen thing and I understand that.

More annoying is that at one point the actors are asked to play their characters about fifteen years older than they actually are and the make-up is atrocious. It looked far more like a high school production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” towards the end than a slick, well designed film production.

If you like Austen’s work and the films that have come about as a result, you’re going to like “Becoming Jane”. I’m not so much of a fan but it’s done well enough and I’m handing out a middle of the road 3 out of 5.

I kinda felt gipped that her life was basically “Pride & Prejudice” mixed in with a little bit of “Miss Potter” but if you’ve missed either or both of those, and like these kinds of films, you’ll enjoy “Becoming Jane”.

And if nothing else, it’s a lot of time spent with Anne Hathaway – who is still encouraged to call me. (You didn’t think I’d write a review of one of her films and forget to plead pathetically on my own behalf, did you?)