User Reviews (153)

  • Nicola Jones9 April 2007
    9/10
    Loved It
    I thought it was a great story and very well cast. I didn't enter the theatre with expectations of learning the truth about Jane Austen's world, who was in it and what made her tick. I understood the movie was loosely based on the life of Jane Austen. The writers have simply devised a beautiful and clever story from only a small shred of evidence that there was a true love in her life. From what I gather the movie was really meant to be an fictional intervention in her life devised from what was known of her. I thought Becoming Jane was funny, beautifully shot and it made me giddy with lust over McEvoy. I loved the sexual energy and meeting of the minds between the love interests. I saw quite a few parallels between this story and Jane's novels. I really believe that Jane would absolutely adore this version, if not find it amusing how it was crafted. I do agree that to create a story about a much loved female author is risky territory, as there are devoted fans of Austen's who are looking for a representation that they personally feel fits their idea of what motivated her as a writer.
  • waterlilly8511 March 2007
    9/10
    Lovely Movie!!
    Seldom does one go to a movie with high expectations and ends up having them fulfilled, but Becoming Jane is an exception in this case. I was charmed by Anne Hathaway's turn in Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada and couldn't really understand the outcry resulting in her being cast as Jane Austen and after having watched the movie I know for sure Anne Hathaway was the right person for the role.

    Hot on the heels of 2005's Pride and Prejudice this movie offers a look into the early years of a spirited Jane Austen and her encounter with a man who could have formed the basis of one of her most famous literary characters Mr Darcy.

    I have to say this movie is without a doubt one of the BEST period films I have ever seen. Not only is it visually stunning but the performances from everyone are superb.

    Maggie Smith a delightful as the shrewd old Aunt.

    Julie Walters excellent as the mother who would give anything to knock some sense into her daughter ( Jane Austen that is ).

    Anna Maxwell Martin is also very good as the sister and confidante of Jane Austen.

    The director Julian Jarrold has done a wonderful job of making an amazing movie that will appeal to all generations.

    And finally the two very charming leads who are the very heart of the movie : Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy. In one word both are AWESOME. James although has little screen time then Anne makes you understand the sheer cockiness and arrogance of Tom Lefroy, from his live free attitude in life to his transformation as a man who begins to care for Jane Austen.His chemistry with Anne Hathaway is sizzling and a very important factor in maintaining the movie's momentum.

    And at last to the leading lady Anne Hathaway. The lady is a marvel as Jane Austen, her determination and spark is vividly captured by Anne in what can be called a very career defining performance. Not only does one feel the pain for Jane but one does marvel at what holds her together and her writing makes her pull through in life.It is Anne Hathaway's spirited portrayal of the literary icon that forms the essence of the movie.

    From her determination to write and her heart break to her feisty attitude to succeed as a writer is uniquely captures by the young actress. One can't really find the exact words to describe the actress's performance as Jane Austen , which is if simply put great.

    This movie has the makings to become the period drama of the year. A fine job by the actors and entire crew of the movie for giving us an insight to what could have been very important years in the young authors life.

    A delight to watch in every sense 8/10
  • F Gwynplaine MacIntyre19 August 2007
    8/10
    I applauded the art direction.
    It is a truth universally acknowledged that reviews of Jane Austen movies must begin with the phrase 'It is a truth universally acknowledged...'.

    I know very little about Jane Austen's life, although I spotted an error in this movie anyway: her deaf-mute older brother George was NOT raised at home with her (as seen here); he was institutionalised, and the hand-signing which Anne Hathaway briefly uses here is partly anachronistic. I confess that I've very little interest in Miss Austen, nor in her novels. But I'm hugely interested in the Regency period in which she lived. As I watched 'Becoming Jane', I was pleasantly astounded by the incredible period detail throughout the film: the houses (inside and out), the books, the churchyards, the carriages and coaches, the clothing. Even the musical instruments, the music and the dances are authentic! Well done! Of course, all these late 18th-century people have 20th-century orthodontia, and their hair is too clean. And the cricket bats don't look (or sound) as if they were made of willow, as they should have been.

    I know that some people will be watching this movie for the costumes, so let me assure you that there are plenty of Empire waists, coal-scuttle bonnets, top boots and Kate Greenaway frocks. Several of the ladies wear delightful gloves.

    This movie follows most of the rules for costume-drama chick-flicks. We get the de rigueur scene in which fully-clothed young women surreptitiously watch naked young men. (But not the reverse, of course.) We get the de rigueur scene in which a young woman performs a traditionally male activity and (of course) she beats the men at their own game. At a cricket match, Jane Austen steps into the crease. The bowler gives her an easy one, and (of course) she knocks it for six.

    I suspect that most of this movie is fiction, and there is indeed one of those 'based on facts' disclaimers in the end credits. I was annoyed that various characters in this film constantly tell Jane Austen that, as a woman, she cannot hope to be the equal of a man, nor can she expect a happy life without a husband. These may indeed have been the accepted realities of Austen's time, but I had difficulty believing that so many people (especially young men who hope to win her) would make a point of making these comments so explicitly and so often.

    Also, everyone in this movie keeps telling Jane that she cannot possibly write about anything which she hasn't experienced. (So she can't write about sexual passion unless ... nudge, nudge.) However, even in Austen's day, this premise was demonstrably untrue. If I want to write a murder mystery, do I need to commit a murder?

    The performances in this film are universally excellent. Any movie with Dame Maggie Smith in it, I'm there. Ian Richardson (in his last role) is superb, wringing the full value from some succulent dialogue. James Cromwell has matured into one of the finest character actors I've ever seen, progressing light-years beyond the infantile Norman Lear sitcom roles of his early career.

    As Jane Austen, Anne Hathaway has the sense to attempt only a very slight English accent, but she is far too pretty for this role. The real Jane Austen was apparently not pretty, and this was a major reason for why she never married. It beggars belief that the Jane Austen seen here -- the one who looks like Anne Hathaway -- would have so much difficulty attracting suitors. However, I'm a realist: there's simply no way that any production company would spend this much money on a costume romance and then cast an unattractive actress in the lead role.

    Evidence indicates that Jane Austen's sister Cassandra was the prettier of the two, and that this discrepancy strongly shaped their relationship. But, again, there's no way that the makers of this film would upstage their own star actress by casting someone more beautiful as her sister. Anna Maxwell Martin, cast here as Cassandra, is a splendid actress and fairly attractive but certainly no beauty in Hathaway's league.

    At the end of the film, a title card alludes to Jane Austen's 'short life'. She actually lived to age 41: a longer lifespan than any of the Brontë sisters', and fairly normal for Regency England. In the last scenes of this film, we see Hathaway in some dodgy 'age' make-up which makes her look rather more sixtyish than fortyish. Near the end of her life, the real Jane Austen had an unidentified illness which darkened her skin: again, I have no expectations of a big-budget film doing anything to compromise the beauty of its leading actress.

    This film's title 'Becoming Jane' is a subtle pun, since Hathaway's embodiment of Jane Austen is so very 'becoming'. Geddit?

    The makers of 'Becoming Jane' have gone to considerable trouble to give their target audience precisely what that audience want, which is only marginally related to the facts. On that score, they have succeeded. And the art direction in this movie is astonishingly thorough, and good. I'll rate 'Becoming Jane' 8 out of 10 as an excellent FICTION film.
  • Esther31 March 2007
    7/10
    Stumbled and fell on an excess of endings
    I was fortunate to come across an article explaining this film. It is a speculative fiction based upon a few facts. Speculation was aroused by the fact that a woman who never married and apparently never had a love affair came to have such a deep and intelligent understanding of relationships. I shan't expand on how potentially offensive that is. But story line is based on a few simple facts. While he was in the country Jane Austen would have almost certainly met Mr Lefroy; while on a journey to see her sister she had a rather long stop off in London during which time she began writing Pride and Prejudice and there was the mention of some letters.

    It started out so well; the stifling quiet of a country life broken by our future genius at work. The structure of this opening sequence was very effective. I was thinking I'm going to love this film. But there was a niggling in the back of my mind. None of the reviews had been great, but I didn't know why (I hadn't actually read any only seen the 2 ½ or 3 stars).

    I continued thinking it was wonderful through most of the film. James McAvoy was beautifully intense, Anne Hathaway was solid, Maggie Smith delightfully amusing and Anna Maxwell Martin underused. There were some beautiful scenes, some so intense. For example a scene in a ball when they are both standing back to back apparently to talking other people but having a very deep conversation.

    But then, as with far too many movies we moved through the climax to an ending of this story line and that story line oh and we'd better conclude this one as well and now everything is tied up in a neat little bundle.

    This is a film that would have benefited from an ambivalent ending, because, aside from the fact that we know she ends up the Western World's highest selling female author the film wasn't actually about that. The film was about the journey toward it. To have left us hanging when, perhaps, she was leaving Lefroy or back in her stiflingly quiet house would have been much more effective in terms of the story and strengthened the film. It simply is not a happy ending but they tried their damned well hardest to make it one.

    I'm afraid I must give this a very generous 7 rather than what could have been a deserving 8 had the film makers (or the studio or whoever the twats are that decide on these things) the courage to make this a film, not Hollywood.
  • tomboy2365 March 2007
    6/10
    A questionable premise
    Hollywood can't seem to get enough of dead female English writers. Hot on the heels of Miss Potter, and in advance of films about the Brontes, we have this romantic confection about Jane Austen's youthful fling with Irish barrister Tom Lefroy.

    There have already been howls of criticism from outraged Janeites that the film is historically inaccurate. It's true that English teachers will have a fit at some elements of the story: at best speculative and unsubstantiated, at worst downright erroneous. The filmmakers admittedly didn't have a lot of historical material to work from. The true background to the story is contained in a couple of letters written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, and an admission by Tom Lefroy in old age that he had once been in 'boyish love' with the writer. On this slightly shaky platform, the filmmakers have built a story of repressed passion and defiance of social mores that is a work of fiction worthy of a novel in its own right.

    This doesn't really matter. Nobody in their right mind would ever accept the version of events presented by a Hollywood biopic as historical gospel. The only viewers who will be taken in by the story seen here will be those who are too lazy, too uninterested or too credulous to do the modicum of research needed to find out the real facts, and who cares what such people think? This film may be largely untrue, but what really matters is whether it works on its own terms, qua film.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't, or at least not entirely. The main reason for this is the underlying premise. It is implied that without Jane and Tom's youthful affair Jane Austen would never have written her six great novels, and in particular (perhaps because it's the most familiar to audiences) Pride and Prejudice. We see Jane angrily destroying a juvenile story criticized by Tom, and later, in the throes of love, bashing out the first draft of P & P (in a single night, which shows an impressive turn of speed). It's plain that, as Tom tells her, 'experience is vital'.

    The same clunkingly literal idea – that an artist must experience emotions in order to write about them successfully - underscored Shakespeare in Love, but there it was handled with a rather lighter touch. Here we are asked to believe that Pride and Prejudice was not a distillation of all Jane Austen's youthful experiences enlivened by a vivid imagination, a sharp sense of humour and a dollop of literary genius, but the next best thing to a true story. The reasons for this approach are obvious: cinema can dramatize Johnny Cash learning the guitar, or Picasso experimenting with paint, but the spectacle of a writer sitting at a desk dreaming and scribbling palls pretty rapidly.

    The irony of a film that takes such wild liberties with the facts relying upon this trite old idea would certainly have been apparent to Jane Austen, whose mastery of irony is emphasized rather unsubtly throughout. Moreover, it's intellectually dishonest; lacking the ability to create a Mr Darcy, the filmmakers borrow freely from Jane Austen's characterisation in creating Tom, and thereby cheekily suggest that the author was the one who lacked the imagination to make such a person up.

    These reservations aside, does the film have anything going for it? Yes. The script has some witty moments and at least makes a decent stab at realistic 18th century dialogue. Ireland is a surprisingly effective and gorgeous substitute for Hampshire, and the autumnal palette of washed-out greens and greys is appropriately sombre. Anne Hathaway is an attractively skittish and impetuous Jane, and she has excellent chemistry with James McAvoy, whose performance as Tom, by turns mercurial and obsessive, is well up to his usual high standards. Reliable support comes from James Cromwell, Julie Walters, the late great Ian Richardson and Maggie Smith, who essentially reprises her character from Gosford Park. The problem is that the lovers' behaviour never really convinces us that this relationship was the foundation of Jane Austen's later literary success, and ultimately peters out into a series of implausible endings, the number of which gives Hot Fuzz and The Return of the King a run for their money. Becoming Jane isn't an awful film, but it doesn't make the grade as a Regency Brief Encounter.
  • mooning_out_the_window9 March 2007
    8/10
    Pleasant film
    I have to say that I enjoyed it. I think there were some problems with it, but overall a nice film. Hathaway's accent is very good apart from a couple of very minor slips that could almost go unnoticed. The film, the person I went with said, was a little too slow in places, but I did not find this so. I think that the director perhaps put a little too much emphasis on Austen's inspirations for her novels and in particular Pride and Prejudice, but I did not mind this too much as that is my favourite novel. The acting all round was very good. MaCavoy played it nicely, giving a lot of energy. I thought that the opening and closing were perhaps a little weak. I don't want to say too much in case others have not seen it yet (though of course most know the ending, they may not know the films interpretation of it). Perhaps the only few weaknesses to the film was the fact that perhaps Hathaway was too pretty to play Austen, though she did a very competent job indeed. I think that Anna Maxwell Martin may perhaps have been more suited?! The other is that I would have liked to have seen slightly more quick wittedness on the part of Jane. She was shown as competent, but not as cutting and quick as I and, I imagine, many believe she was. However, despite this I quite enjoyed the film, and wouldn't mind watching it again. It is better that Pride and Prejudice 2005 adaptation in my opinion. 8/10.
  • screencinderelly20 July 2008
    2/10
    Jane Austen....without any of the wit or charm of her fiction
    Warning: Spoilers
    See British acting royalty act circles around Anne Hathaway, who seems capable only of blinking and widening her big cow eyes, and see an icon, Jane Austen, portrayed without an ounce of the incandescent wit, sharp insight, or humanity of any the novels she wrote and whose adaptations have graced the screen. I can understand why the writer and director embellished Austen's real-life romance with LeFroy, and other biographical details, but why create such an ungracious, self-important, proud and prejudiced heroine? The way she treats Wissley is downright vulgar and mean, and there was an opportunity here to create more than one character who might (one could have wondered) have inspired the characterization of Mr. D'Arcy. Some of the camera effects are simply irritating, the score is boring, and the whole production has a muddy, static quality. Clunky period piece, not in the same league as the latest Pride and Prejudice, or any of the movie adaptations of Austen's work. It really sucked.
  • shirleyhanna1 December 2007
    3/10
    Great Supporting Cast but disappointing rendition and miscast of Jane
    Big disappointment. I guess I'll have to watch Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility again to remind myself how great Jane Austen REALLY was. This version is so loosely based on Jane Austen's life - full of undocumented speculation that it seems unfair to capitalize on Jane Austen's name. If you want to know what really happened, look up her bio, don't rely on this movie. The supporting cast is terrific, especially James McAvoy and Julie Waters (as always). In my opinion however, Anne Hathaway lacked the charisma for this role. She was not interesting enough to make me care about her character or believe she had imagination enough to write a letter, let alone the works of Jane Austen! I guess I am in the minority but I found her to be without depth, wimpy and boring. I think Jane was such an important historical and literary contributor, poor casting of her pivotal role and a script based on speculation, ruined the movie for me.
  • njmollo16 September 2007
    1/10
    Anne Hathaway cannot Act!!!
    Why Oh why cast Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen? The girl can't act. She has a dodgy English accent and has only two expressions, one being wide-eyed blankness and the other being wide-eyed wet blankness. I am sure she has a squinty eye as well!

    Does Britain not have a talented pool of actors that could have played the part and given it something extraordinary as Kate Winslet did in Sense and Sensibility?

    There is an old film industry saying that "even before a Camera turns, a film can be ruined by poor casting" and this proves the point eloquently.
  • Chris_Docker13 February 2007
    5/10
    Sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon an American-Irish-English Jane . . .
    A film about Jane Austen, one of the greatest writers of English literature, will garner expectations and hopes, especially with a cascade of stars newly discovered (James McAvoy, Anne Hathaway) and well-established (Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, James Cromwell). That it focuses on her life before she becomes a writer certainly had not dulled my appetite.

    The 22 yr old Austen is played by the very pretty Anne Hathaway, who you'll know from Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada. We meet her family when her older sister is happily married. The cash-strapped parents have the pressing problem of finding eligible young Jane a husband. A promising offer is the stuck-up relative of wealthy Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith), who Jane rejects.

    Let's meet Tom Lefroy. He's a penniless, charming, intelligent, apprentice lawyer. He also loves boxing, drinking and the fairer sex. These latter hobbies, mind you, do not endear him to his uncle, the imperious Judge Langlois, who promptly sentences him to a summer in Hampshire as punishment. In a rustic backdrop of dancing and match-making, Jane and Tom develop a teasing, flirtatious rapport. Unlike the other men in her life, Tom presents Jane with intellectual company as well as dashing good looks and a flair for the odd chat-up. As they grow more serious about each other, they become equally aware of how doomed their relationship is - something their elders twigged on page one. But Tom has given Jane something she needs - the knowledge of the heart that will impassion her writing.

    Firstly be warned. If you are expecting a nice feel-good movie, don't bother. This made me thoroughly miserable. Not just because a poignant lonely destiny is too much to bear, but because it's a wasted opportunity to bring a great life to the screen. Our ultimate theme Austen's writing, yet we see little to convince that this bland and photogenic girl has much between the ears. In Devil Wears Prada, an outstanding script enabled Hathaway to suggest hidden brainpower. In Becoming Jane, the occasionally erudite lines sound leaden and false. Her body language, meant to portray a rebel, seems a bit anachronistic. Although she looks quite resplendent, dashing across the hills in a billowing red dress to watch the lads skinny-dipping, the film is a sad disappointment in the development of Hathaway's otherwise promising career. Kate Winslet or Natalie Portman (who were apparently also considered for the role) might well have fared better: they have a depth and experience that could perhaps have compensated for such a clunky script. Maggie Smith and other strong actors are reduced to ciphers and little more than icing on a badly made cake.

    On the other hand, James McAvoy (fresh from The Last King of Scotland) is a revelation. In what seems like a flash of brilliance in the generally myopic casting, he shines in every scene. A talented actor, he also brings his skills in boxing and sport to imbue Lefroy with vibrancy and charisma. It is when he works his seductive charms on Jane that he also brings out the best in his co-star. After her first adult kiss, Jane trembles, wondering if she has done it well. Hathaway does gooey-eyed emotion much better than persuading us she is a genius about to happen. The film gathers pace as we are drawn into an emotional cat and mouse. Jane's 'experience of the heart' that will inspire her, is the one of the best things about the film, second only to the large and constantly moist dollops of budget-saving Irish countryside.

    But how does the film reflect on Jane Austen the author? Austen's possible flirtations with Mr Thomas Langlois Lefroy are more speculative than fact. Historian Jon Spence worked as a consultant on the film and has written a book of the same name, which is probably a must-have for Austen fans. He gives attention to the inspiration he feels Lefroy gave to Jane, and this is developed into actual events in the movie.

    Austen is one of the most influential and revered novelists of the early nineteenth century and her social commentary is marked with a strong sense of irony. Devotees will no doubt enjoy scenes such as the one where she corrects Tom's uncle on the definition of the word 'irony'. But the transition from girlishness to mastery with words is so contrived that it could almost be two parallel scripts.

    There are many that will love Becoming Jane in spite of its imperfections. The rest of us might wish it had been told better.
  • clare-kendall16 November 2012
    2/10
    Oh dear.
    To make a film about the life of Jane Austen, one of the most celebrated (if not the most celebrated) female authors of all time which manages to patronise women is quite some achievement and Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams should be justly proud. This seemingly impossible feat is brought off by pretty much ignoring her many literary masterpieces and focusing instead, with barefaced inaccuracy, on a failed early romantic liaison. I'm not going to criticise the actors as they all too often get the blame for badly drawn characters but the notion that Anne Hathaway's Jane could have written a book like Pride and Prejudice is, frankly, hilarious.

    I can only assume that the makers of this film have mistaken all that swooning over Colin Firth's wet shirt scene and Greg Wise's heroics on horseback as evidence that fans of Jane Austen are nothing more than lovers of ditsy romances.

    Yes, Austen's stories are, essentially love stories but take the romance out and it's still great literature. It is her timeless wit, intellect and brutal exposure of human nature that has made Austen one of the most widely read and appreciated authors in history.

    There is a very great, and not at all delicious, irony that the world Jane Austen describes is one in which a woman is judged merely on her ability to make a good match and that, despite all her critical acclaim as a writer, this is what film makers centuries later should choose to reduce her own life to.

    I watched this film, against my better judgement, on a flight between Quito and Miami. The immigration queues couldn't come quick enough.
  • vikingvampireparrot17 April 2007
    7/10
    Enjoyable Tale
    I knew very little about this film before I went to see it - I think the trailer was the sum total of what I had heard. Now, I know very little about Jane Austen or her life so am considering Becoming Jane simply as a film loosely based on/inspired by her life.

    The film tells the story of a young woman, Jane, who refuses to marry purely for money and embarks on writing to support herself rather than relying on a husband.

    The story is well told, with excellent performances all round (especially Anne Hathaway and the always brilliant James Cromwell). The pace is maybe a little slow at times and Jane herself can be rather annoying and contradictory but that simply shows the flaws of human nature rather than being a criticism of the film per se.

    Visually the film was stunning. Brilliant scenery, excellent costumes. All used to great effect to enhance the film without ever becoming overpowering or distracting from the story.

    Overall, this was an enjoyable film, if not up there with Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility in my opinion. Well worth a watch (unless you are going to be annoyed by every little inaccuracy) but probably not worth adding to the DVD collection.
  • preeti_temp30 September 2007
    2/10
    Does not do justice to Jane Austen
    Warning: Spoilers
    The movie has beautiful settings, and nice costumes. That's it.

    Things that seem "off":-

    -The books in the library look 200 years old...

    -Anne Hathaway just does not come across as being an intelligent young writer, i.e. Jane Austen. An actress with a more subtle appearance, and more adept at slipping into the role would have been a better choice.

    -The lead actor looked like a teenage boy!

    -There was no need for the movie to have so many endings. One would have been sufficient

    -The movie insults Jane Austen's wit and power of observation. Why must she have had a broken heart in order to write the way she did?

    All in all, just go see BBC's 5 hr Pride and Prejudice. And then you will realize that this movie is so mediocre in comparison.
  • R Fri10 August 2007
    3/10
    Destroying Jane
    Of all truths to be universally acknowledged, I am, admittedly and with all possible pride, a nerd of the Jane Austen variety. Lovingly I have scanned the pages of each novel, appreciating the irony and humor. Adamantly I have viewed every film adaptation (that I am aware of), from Lee's Sense and Sensibility to Chadha's Bride and Prejudice, and, little by little, screenwriter's have slowly hacked away at her genius… sometimes successfully. I have borne scenes of Hugh Grant play sword fighting, of Keira Knightly stroking Matthew Macfadyen's calf, and of Colin Firth half nude admirably well (perhaps the latter more well than others), but occasionally a writer crosses that very fine line between revering the most beloved authoress and destroying all that which she created.

    I do not pretend to be an Austen purist by any means; I understand that adaptations of her novels can't all be five hours long and follow her dialogue word for word. We, the Austen lovers of the world, must surrender that movies are not books, and cannot, therefore, be identical to them. Emma Thompson, for example, made countless changes in writing her version of Sense and Sensibility, yet the alterations which she made were necessary. To me, it would be just as much a disservice to Jane Austen to follow one of her novels word for word in the screenplay and produce a dull piece of cinema than it would be to add a sex scene to Persuasion. What is important, in my opinion, is that the finished film retain the spirit of the novel, the humor, the vivacity, all that which makes her works as timeless as they are. This noted, I must express my disappointment, perhaps even disgust, in Becoming Jane, or as I have not-so-affectionately nicknamed it, Kidnapping, Raping and Murdering Jane, which is neither accurate nor entertaining.

    With Shakespeare in Love and Finding Neverland as models of success, Hollywood has pumped out disappointing flicks like Miss Potter, and now Becoming Jane, expecting viewers to lap it up, but what the first two are that the latter two are not is clever. They intermingle inspiration with biography, presenting the plot of the writer's lives almost as an ode to their work. Becoming Jane occasionally alluded to Pride and Prejudice, the most famous of Austen's six completed novels, but when it did so the allusions were weak and clearly forced. It was as though the screenwriters (Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams) were only familiar with Pride and Prejudice, ignoring her other five masterpieces. What is must frustrating about this is that it would have been so simple to allude to the other works. Have Cassandra (Jane's older sister) encourage Jane to be more sensible with regards to her romance, and voilà! Sense and Sensibility! Throw in a young character that introduces Jane to bachelors in hopes of making a match, and you've got Emma! But no, all that Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams could think to do was make Tom Lefroy, Jane's love interest, seemingly arrogant, but ultimately lovable.

    Similarly, the film spends so much time expressing the tragedy of Jane Austen's situation that one forgets that Anne Hathaway is meant to be the clever, witty woman that has hypnotized so many modern readers. I do not mean to scorn the movie's somewhat unhappy ending, so unlike those in Austen novels, but the way in which it ignores her character. Finding Neverland, for example, expresses the sadness of J. M. Barry's life, yet at the same time presents the story in such a way that the viewer feels as though they are watching something as magical as Peter Pan. Though Becoming Jane is certainly inaccurate, even inaccuracies would be tolerable if they were done in the name of preserving the spirit of Jane Austen's works. Instead, we the viewer are presented with a poor composition of infrequent wit and mildly appealing romance, hardly reminiscent of any of Austen's books.

    Apart from the abominable screenplay, the direction was mediocre and predictable at best. Julian Jarrold does produce a pretty shot here and there, but seems to have just discovered how to shoot an aerial view, and so puts them in practically every other scene.

    In spite of this negativity, I must admit that some of the acting was unexpectedly good. Anne Hathaway as Jane has a fine British accent and acts much better than I would have predicted (this is, after all, the first movie I've ever seen her in that she doesn't start out a homely geek and end up a fashion-forward bombshell). It is James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy, however, that puts in the show stealing performance. Maggie Smith is, as usual, good, as are Julie Walters and James Cromwell, even if those blasphemists Hood and Williams chose to throw in a scene of a, well, questionable, nature between them.

    Even with decent acting and direction, it is hard to produce a good movie based on a monstrous screenplay. The effect, all in all, is extremely disappointing. I would not recommend this movie to anyone who truly appreciates Jane Austen… or good cinema.
  • tollini8 June 2007
    10/10
    Truly Moving Picture
    I saw this film on March 28th, 2007 in Indianapolis. I am one of the judges for the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "…explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.

    The "Jane" is Jane Austen and this is a fictional depiction of her young adult life before her novel writing career. I suppose half of the tale is based on fact such as she rejected a marriage proposal, and half the tale is made up to create engaging story-telling. But that's not important.

    The essence of the story is the mores of proper English society around 1800. Woman had their place. And that place was to give oneself to an arranged marriage and become a dutiful wife and mother. It was even more important to be in these roles if you were a daughter of a minister of modest means who had lots of children to care for. Jane was one of those children.

    But Jane has spunk and smarts and a stubbornness to live her own life as she sees fit. Anne Hathaway plays young Jane convincingly and Anne's good looks are played down as much as possible. It's Jane's inner self that makes her attractive and not her exterior appearance.

    And she is so attractive that she has three suitors; the rich and dull one, the poor and roguish one, and a secret and nefarious one. This circumstance allows us to see England from the various social strata, which is fun and informative.

    Jane, 200 years ahead of her time, shows beauty and grace and charm and spirit, and will not buckle to her day's lot in life. We should all have such courage "… to follow our bliss" knowing we have but one life to live.

    FYI – There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
  • Danusha_Goska Save Send Delete28 April 2008
    5/10
    Maddeningly Frustrating to Watch
    Warning: Spoilers
    There are many imaginative, passionate, first-rate Austen adaptations out there. The production values on this film just don't measure up. Somehow the costumes, lighting, sets and direction never gel to create the kind of "entering another world" experience that the viewer craves.

    Anne Hathaway is a very lovely woman, but she is no Jane Austen. Hathaway is not only not believable as Jane Austen, she is not believable as a writer. She just does not convey the cerebral, verbally-obsessed nature of a writer.

    Her body language is all wrong. Watching Hathaway pose, slump, and gesture like a twenty-first century American girl reminds the viewer how well notable stars of previous, well-done Austen adaptations, like Amanda Root, Jennifer Ehle, and Emma Thompson used their bodies in conveying the corporeal realities of nineteenth century feminine life.

    James McAvoy is a very charismatic new star, and I try to see every movie featuring him that I can, but he just never works here, at least partly because the movie is based roughly on Austen's real life, so his character is written to ultimately disappoint both the audience and Jane, but also because he and Hathaway have no chemistry.

    The movie's greatest flub is Mr. Wisley. As discussion boards show, viewers liked Mr. Wisley, and for good reason. The movie is supposed to want us to applaud how it deals with Mr. Wisley, and we don't.

    Given that the movie is based on a real person's autobiography, it paints itself into corner, and the resolution we would like to see, we can't. Jane treats Mr. Wisley poorly, and gives no sign that she appreciates his depths, because he is superficially lacking in charm and grace. Would the real Jane Austen have been so blind? It's hard to respect the Jane Austen in this film who can't see Mr. Wisley's true value, but who chases after a man who can never make her happy.

    Anna Maxwell Martin, who was so good in "North and South," is very fine as Cassandra, Jane's older sister. James Cromwell, as Jane's father, is as excellent as he always is. Julie Walters is both lovable and believable as Jane's mother.
  • JackCerf6 August 2007
    6/10
    Pleasantly Routine
    Warning: Spoilers
    The British stamp out these competent costume dramas like Toyota stamps out family sedans. As long as you don't mistake it for anything but fiction, Becoming Jane is a pleasant, undemanding afternoon's light entertainment. As the two leads Hathaway and McAvoy are charming, easy to look at and know their business, while Cromwell, Walters and Smith glide effortlessly through the principal supporting roles.

    The movie's view that creative genius is no more than the recycling of experience is superficial; if that were so, there'd be a lot more brilliant novels than there are. It is nevertheless fun to spot the prefiguring of characters, plot points and even bits of dialogue from Austen's novels. Lady Catherine, Aunt Churchill and Mrs. Ferrars can all be carved out of Maggie Smith's old gorgon, and Mrs. Austen has the makings not so much of Mrs. Bennet as of Mrs. Jennings and Lady Russell in her hard earned worldly wisdom. Like the brood sow whom we are twice shown, Mrs. A has more offspring than means to provide for them, and she knows it.

    The mainstream critics have all seized on the parallels with Pride and Prejudice, but I think that the relationship portrayed between Austen and Lefroy resembles a good deal more that between Marianne Dashwood and Willoughby -- a clever and articulate young man charms a headstrong, intelligent but impecunious young woman by recognizing and appealing to her intelligence, raises her expectations, dumps her because he needs money and she has none, and then professes self-loathing repentance.

    At that point, experience has formed the Austen who wrote the novels, which is to say a spinster who had speculated unsuccessfully in the marriage market that she afterwords observed from an emotional distance as a spectator, with shrewd, penetrating and by no means kindly wit sugar coated with happy endings. The abandoned elopement could have been dispensed with -- its purpose is merely to soften the blow by making Austen more of an agent of her own fate than victim, and to justify Lefroy's mercenary conduct.
  • eagleeyedcritic14 February 2011
    1/10
    The worst Jane Austen movie ever made
    This movie was a huge disappointment and was by far the worst movie about Jane Austen ever made.

    I saw someone defend in their review that they didn't have much historical information to base it on however that hardly excuses such a complete disregard for the time period and also for such poor writing when portraying such an amazing woman as Jane Austen. Even without a historical basis as to the romance it isn't hard to realize what a character Jane was by her writing.

    Another defense I saw in a review was the lack of a sex scene. I've seen numerous period pieces that do not have sex scenes and that has nothing to do with the movie not being sexy enough. The build up in other period pieces such as Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice... the restraint... these are common for the times and still lend a great sense of sexual tension... which is partially relieved when they finally kiss or confess their love. Sex isn't needed to get this point across. This movie lacked it all - there was no sexual tension, no chemistry... it was a big yawn in all ways.

    It is bleak, boring and depressing. They make out that the man she was interested in was much more than she ever was yet that isn't saying much as I found him anything but lovable. He is arrogant, a womanizer, etc... and she is bland and boring.

    The other inaccuracies in this movie are astounding. E.g. Her reaching for a kiss first and then asking if it were good enough? Please! This would never happen. Or showing her playing a man's sport with her pantaloons showing as she runs about. Her treating the man courting her so badly. There are many more - far too many to list.

    Save yourself the time and trouble and watch a movie worth watching such as one of Jane Austen's.
  • plopez_1321 March 2008
    1/10
    I just cannot believe it!
    I have never thought I would EVER give anything with the name "Jane Austen" in it a single star, but I'm so sorry, this thing sucked.

    I couldn't figure out if it was more of a copy of "Shakespeare in Love" or "Pride & Prejudice" It seams like Miramax saw how good Working Title did with the 2005 P&P and they wanted to take advantage of the Jane Austen fans. What happened Miramax? You did a wonderful "Emma" and "Mansfield Park" but you really jumped the shark.

    1. It is so dirty! The reason why I love Jane Austen is that she can deal with real situations in real life without having the necessity of putting sex in it to make it sell. I felt like I was reading a typical boring, fan fiction or a cheap Wal-mart Romance with the protagonist half naked on the cover.

    2. I saw no originality. All was either a copy of P&P, S&S, Emma, etc. It seamed like the director watched those movies and said "Ok, lets make a cheap and bad copy of that!" I don't know why people keep on insisting that people's novels are based on their life's. I mean, if 200 years from now, someone make a movie called "Becoming J.K." they are all going to base it on the Harry Potter books because J.K. Rowling wrote them. They are going to base her off Hermione, Harry, and Ron?! Doesn't make sense, now does it. NEITHER DOES THIS

    3. Casting.

    Anne Hathaway!

    We can say, Jane Austen goes to a ball...in PRADA.

    Jane Austen meets Tom Lefroy...in PRADA.

    Jane Austen writes her novels...(Yes you guessed it)in PRADA.

    I have nothing against Anne being American since I live in the US, but honestly, her accent sucked. At least Gwyneth Paltrow's was believable. They should have picked someone else. For a person living in the US not to believe her accent really is saying something, you know.

    James McAvoy.

    I'm such a big fan of "Atonement" but what was he thinking?! He had the possibility of doing Mr. Darcy in the 2005 P&P and he let it go! For what?! To do Tom Lefroy!! I hated his hair. I felt like I was watching "Drake & Josh" on Nick or something because his hair was Drake's but in the curly version.

    5. Storyline. It was dumb and boring. I felt like I was watching some sort of dumb teenage show. With all those "innocent" references and everything.

    So, yeah, people, piece of crap. Re-watch your old favorite Jane Austen adaptations, since they are much better worth your time than this. I'm so sorry, Jane, I love you, but I'm going to have to give you one star. I hope you wouldn't roll in your grave.
  • creeda126 September 2008
    3/10
    Even more tedious than I feared!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Watched this on a rainy evening on TV. The script was really very poor - Jane seemed so insolent rather than entertaining. The costumes however were delightful. Anne Hathaway is absolutely dire - she just looks like the Devil in Prada person - expressions varying from baffled wide-eyed to sad wide-eyed - always with a lot of very red lipstick and irrelevant curl of the lip. She seems always so dreary and depressed, whereas the writings of Jane Austen are so witty and astute - but of course that's the script. For some reason, I think she walks in a very modern way............big strides rather than little steps - but probably my views of the nineteenth century are quite wrong. The Lefroy character is very good - at least he seems amusing! Maggie Smith is as usual great fun - her nephew seems perfectly acceptable as a husband - specially for a bossy-boots like this Jane! I thought the little sex-scene at the beginning between the mother and father was particularly humorous (after 32 years of marriage!!!). .
  • whaawhoo22220 August 2007
    1/10
    What ever happened to the innocence of Jane Austen's writings?
    Why couldn't this movie had followed in the innocence of her writings? How awful to make a mockery of Ms. Austen's writings by suggesting that her work was inspired by defiled and adulterated ideas of intimacy that may have happened around her. Wouldn't you think that would have shown in her writings as well. There were vague glimpses that existed in her writing, but it did not play a strong role in her writing and had it been important to her it would have. She kept her writings pure and innocence and in good taste, which is why so many people enjoy her works. Having said that, I feel this movie was awful and misleading to someone who may not be familiar with her works and it would mislead someone to believe her to be a woman of distaste. This is obviously not the case and I feel she has been misrepresented. Why do film makers feel that including such filth and lust is necessary. Recent movies such as Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Pride and Prejudice didn't indulge in such things and they were well received. Particularly those who are true to her stories. This was of poor taste and not recommended. I am surprised to see it was only rated PG. Everything was about sex and not the kind of love and intimacy she so very well understood and expressed in her literature. It is definitely not something I would want my daughter to see or a movie I would recommend. To those who truly grasped and understood and long for the innocence of that day will not enjoy this movie.
  • James Hitchcock27 March 2007
    6/10
    The Biographical Fallacy
    Warning: Spoilers
    It is one of the ironies of literary history that, although Jane Austen was possibly the greatest writer of romantic novels in the English language, we should know so little about her own romantic life. A few years ago one academic earned the obloquy of Janeites everywhere by suggesting that their heroine might have had lesbian tendencies. There is very little evidence to support this hypothesis, but in fairness to the said academic it should be pointed out that there is not much more evidence to prove definitively the hypothesis that Jane was heterosexual. We know that in her early twenties she had a brief friendship with a young Irish lawyer named Tom Lefroy, but we do not know how deep that friendship went. We know that she received and refused a proposal from a young man named Harris Bigg-Wither, but we do not know her motives for rejecting him. (This would have been a financially advantageous match, so they were presumably not mercenary ones). We know that she was still unmarried when she died in her early forties. And that's about it.

    "Becoming Jane" is essentially a filmed biography of Jane Austen told in the style of a filmed Jane Austen novel. It explores the possibility that she and Lefroy might have been deeply in love and suggests that this romance might have been the basis for her novel "Pride and Prejudice". Jane, like her heroine Elizabeth Bennett, is an attractive, high-spirited girl of 21. Like Elizabeth, Jane has an older sister to whom she is devoted. Her parents are portrayed as very much the inspiration for Mr and Mrs Bennett in the novel, in financial difficulties and forever worrying about how to marry off their daughters. There is an elderly, imperious widow (clearly the original of Lady Catherine de Bourgh) and a creepy clergyman (the prototype of Mr Collins), obsessively in love with Jane. There is a clandestine elopement, serving as the basis for Lydia's adventure with Mr Wickham.

    This is, however, an Austen novel with a difference in that it ends unhappily for the lovers. Unlike Mr Darcy, Tom Lefroy is not the rich owner of a stately home but an impoverished, struggling barrister. The romance between Jane and Tom has the support of neither her parents who would prefer her to marry a wealthier suitor, Mr Wisley, nor his autocratic uncle, the ultra-reactionary Judge Langlois, on whom his prospects depend. (Wisley is an invented character, but he is obviously based upon Bigg-Wither, who in reality did not come into Jane's life until several years after the events shown in this film).

    The film critic of the "Sunday Times" criticised this film for being insufficiently erotic, suggesting (referring not only to this film but also "Miss Potter" and "Mrs Brown") that the British like to imagine their national heroines in love but not in bed. There is, however, a perfectly good reason why this film did not show any love scenes between Jane and Tom, quite apart from the need to keep the family audience. Young women of good family in the late eighteenth century, even when deeply in love, did not jump into bed with their boyfriends as readily as they do in the twenty-first. Contraception was much less reliable than it is today, and any woman who lost her reputation for chastity would have been regarded as bringing shame not only on herself but also on her whole family.

    Another criticism I have seen (both on this board and elsewhere) is that Anne Hathaway is too attractive to play Jane. In fact, we do not really know what Austen looked like during this period, although her contemporaries paid tribute to her "pleasing" appearance. There is something of a tradition of casting glamorous actresses as literary figures, and Hathaway playing Jane Austen is a much less obvious case of miscasting than Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf or Kate Winslet as Iris Murdoch. (Coming next: Catherine Zeta Jones as George Eliot? Angelina Jolie as Emily Dickinson?) Hathaway, in fact, played her part very well. As in "Nicholas Nickelby" her British accent was near-perfect, and James McAvoy (something of a rising star of the British cinema after "The Last King of Scotland") made an appealing hero as Lefroy, a man who hides his better nature under the guise of a roguish libertine. There were also some good cameo performances in the minor roles, especially from the late Ian Richardson (in his last role) as the formidable Langlois. Another notable feature was the look of the film. Like most period dramas it was attractively photographed, with County Wicklow in Ireland substituting for Austen's native Hampshire.

    There has in recent years been a glut of films about British female authors, but apart from "Miss Potter", a touching romance about somebody who played a very minor role in the history of English letters, the only one I really enjoyed was "Sylvia", which I felt gave us a real insight into Sylvia Plath's life. "Iris" was well acted, but there seemed little connection between either Judi Dench's senile old lady or Kate Winslet's student sexpot and the real-life novelist Iris Murdoch. Similarly, "The Hours" was not very enlightening about either Virginia Woolf's life or her work. "Becoming Jane" falls into the same category. It relies too heavily on the biographical fallacy, the idea that works of fiction must be, in effect, disguised memoirs of the author's own personal experiences, an idea which downplays the role of creativity and imagination in literature. As a romantic drama with a period setting it is perfectly acceptable, but it does not do much to enhance our understanding of Jane Austen. 6/10
  • Markark4 August 2007
    1/10
    Worst movie ever made?
    I know this is not actually the worst movie ever made, but in context, it is the worst movie I have seen in a long time. A pale, feeble imitation of Shakespeare in Love, only no Tom Stoppard script. If you want to make a movie of a Jane Austen book, there are six of them and they are great. If you want to make the next in line of the 1,000,000 lame brained romantic comedies, well, fire up the assembly line. But why make a movie that looks like a Jane Austen book/movie, is marketed like a movie from a Jane Ausent book, but has the hack dialog of an assembly line romantic comedy? This was brought home to me just before I left, in a dance scene that looks like a dance scene from Pride and Prejudice, but is scripted like a TV sitcom. As the actors were mouthing their witless clunky conversation, I kept playing in my head the original words and wondering why on earth anyone would bother with this nonsense. Another example, and a particularly execrable one, of people making a movie that seems to deliberately remove everything that made the book worthwhile. This isn't' about failing to adhere to the details of Austen's life. Who cares about that? It's about using Ausen like a brand name, like charging people to see a color-by-number Mona Lisa. You wonder, don't they know, or don't they care? Yuck, yuck, yuck.
  • Leilakin24 October 2007
    4/10
    horrible horrible editing can really ruin a movie
    I simply hated the editing and continuity in this movie. It literally looked like a neophyte had their hands on the footage.

    Editing problems Every shot was cut sloppily into the next with no sense of transition or meaningful point.

    It hurt my eyes to keep watching it, because as I was trying to take in a scene or a view the cut would slap me in the eyes and force me to try to focus on something else. Why would a scene in which Jane and her beloved discuss the details of their desire to marry be split into 20 cuts?

    Continuity problems Doesn't anyone watch their dailies? Where is the set director, the props department, the wardrobe master? Every scene has multiple continuity errors. There is a scene that just floored me when Jane was laying in bed trying to sleep. There are 5 cuts showing her on her pillows, but the pillows in each scene are moved around and some are even missing. UGH! This is just sloppy and lazy movie-making.

    Too bad, with such a high budget and decent acting and writing, that the movie is ruined and loses all chances at any critical acclaim because of sloppy and lazy editing and continuity management.

    I'd love to see a re-cut version of this.
  • toopooyou7 August 2007
    8/10
    Austen's Powers Made Clear
    Warning: Spoilers
    Let me say this first: Yes. This movie is, in fact, NOT BASED OFF REAL LIFE. This appears to be the highest complaint for this clearly delightful and moving film about the fictitious life of Jane Austen. I walked into the theatre to see this movie knowing fully well that it was based off minor speculation, and anybody who has any knowledge of Jane Austen knows that this movie is not real.

    It is a movie beautifully portrayed in the likes of Shakespeare in Love, where Shakespeare was transformed into a poetic hottie, rather than the ugly man with wooden teeth that he was most likely to have been. Shakespeare in Love garnered an Academy Award for best Picture, whereas Becoming Jane has been criticized for its lack of reality. Personally, I don't see what the fuss is about.

    Becoming Jane is a beautifully directed film when fantastic scenery and sets. Anne Hathaway and James MacAvoy both have haunting and entertaining performances, making their slow journey to love extremely wonderful to watch. Maggie Smith is wonderful as well in her small role as a woman who, I can only assume, was the inspiration behind Pride and Prejudice's Lady Catherine.

    While the story does falter near the end, giving the audience too many climactic moments before the film actually finishes, I found it to be achingly romantic. MacAvoy and Hathaway had great chemistry and were thoroughly convincing as a couple deeply in love, an emotion that caused them as much distress as it caused happiness.

    The movie exudes subtle sexuality, displayed in a scene in which MacAvoy reads to Hathaway a passage from a nature book about mating birds and the female's "screams of ecstasy"; another scene shows the lovers walking up stairs to ask for permission to marry, MacAvoy gently grazes Hathaway's hand with his own and fondles the skirts of her dress. It was these subtle signs of love and lust that made this movie a treat to watch, being as overt sexuality would not have mirrored the time period. A scene at the end of the film in which, many years later, the couple meet each other by chance and we see MacAvoy's daughter, a charming lover of Jane Austen novels, conveniently named Jane. His daughter, named Jane, is based on fact. The movie is a chilling look on the few options that women had at the time, and shows that, although true love can be found, it can't always be kept.

    I recommend this film to anyone who is a lover of Austen, a lover of romantic films, or just anyone who is interesting in seeing a thoroughly entertaining and beautifully sad film about a love unexplored.
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