Becoming Jane

Film, Drama

Time Out says

1795, and money is tight at the Austen country parsonage, placing no little onus on daughter Jane (Anne Hathaway) to make a lucrative marriage. This bright, independent-spirited 20-year-old may have her own ideas, however, since she’s not hugely keen on nice-but-dim suitor Mr Wisley (Laurence Fox), even if he does comes with a fortune and the backing of aunt Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith). Cue rakish Irish trainee lawyer Tom (James McAvoy), visiting his Hampshire relatives from London, and a waspish metropolitan match for Jane’s keen wit. Shame he’s a rogue with barely a penny to his name...

So, according to recent research, a youthful spot of ill-fated love helped mould Jane Austen into a great writer, and on the back of that comes this capable dramatisation. Perhaps unexpectedly, Hathaway projects the insightfulness of the future author with no little charm, and McAvoy’s charismatic enough to convince as the slightly cocky object of her ardour (if less persuasive in bare-torsoed boxing scenes). Overall, the approach is less fluffily contrived than you’d expect, and though the alignment of circumstance and social status thwarting innocent passions is hardly fresh, it’s handled with thoughtful decorum. The emotional temperature’s rather restrained as a result, but with luxury casting all down the line (James Cromwell and Julie Walters line up as Jane’s parents), elegant visuals balancing verdant and velvet, and a delightful faux-classical score, it’s a classy package, all right – just missing the extra spark.



Release details

Release date:
Friday March 9 2007
120 mins

Cast and crew

Julian Jarrod
Kevin Hood, Sarah Williams
Anne Hathaway
James McAvoy
Julie Walters
James Cromwell
Maggie Smith
Joe Anderson
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