Summer 2008 Summer Films series
Sunday, June 15, 2008 at 8:00pm
Directed by Julian Jarrold
Screenplay by Sarah Williams and Kevin Hood
Starring James Cromwell, Julie Walters, Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, and Helen McCrory
Rated PG ·
Becoming Jane is based on an incident in the life of the beloved writer Jane Austen, and follows the real-life romance that inspired her classic novels. Like many of her heroines, Jane (Anne Hathaway, The Devil Wears Prada) is bright, strong-willed, and unwilling to marry merely for money, even though her family is struggling financially. Though many of her friends wish her to pair up with the nephew of a rich woman (Maggie Smith, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Jane wants something more. When she meets the Irish rogue Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy, The Last King of Scotland), she initially can’t stand him, but their romance blooms, serving as the inspiration for Pride and Prejudice. Director Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots) is no stranger to literary fare. Though Becoming Jane is only his second feature film, he directed several productions for British television, including Great Expectations, Crime and Punishment, and White Teeth. At times, Becoming Jane feels exactly as it should: a long-lost Austen novel that’s just been rediscovered. The themes and characters here seem familiar, as they’ve appeared in Austen’s work many times. There’s the devoted father, difficult mother, loving sister, and, of course, the charming young man with whom the protagonist initially clashes but later falls for. As Tom, McAvoy proves he deserves the attention he received for roles in The Last King of Scotland and Starter for Ten. He’s the perfect choice for a romantic lead in an Austen film, taking his place next to Matthew McFadyen in Pride and Prejudice and Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility. As Austen, Hathaway exudes intelligence and energy, playing exactly the sort of woman who appeared in the writer’s work. For those who can’t wait for the next adaptation of Austen’s work to arrive, Becoming Jane is an engaging look at the writer’s life and love.