Sense and Speculation: How Becoming Jane Exploits Austen
Back in 1795 in
Perhaps seeking to cash in on this trend, historian Jon Spence wrote a speculative history of Austen’s life where he infers all kinds of things from the slim evidence of Austen’s letters and effects. Using this dubious material, Scion Films cast Anne Hathaway as Austen in Becoming Jane, the ultimate chick flick. With lots of painstakingly accurate costumes and period homes (actually from near
The plot of Becoming Jane views like bits and pieces of Pride and Prejudice mixed in with a conventional romantic comedy storyline with a twist ending. As the Austen family struggles to make ends meet, the rich but dull Mr. Wisly (Lawrence Fox) proposes to Jane, but she won’t marry just for money, and her parents get exasperated with her. In a film that conscientiously keeps things hopping along in eighteen century
James McAvoy’s impressed me with his performance as the intriguing penniless rake. I have liked his work as the bratty younger brother in
As a guy, however, I found the movie schmaltzy at times, at other times predictable. For all of its sensuous cinematography and skillful acting, Becoming Jane feeds on the Austen’s reputation like a parasite. A leech remains a leech, even dressed up in 18th century designer gowns.