Last night I had a girls night out with a friend to see the new movie Becoming Jane Austen. This was exciting for two reasons. Firstly I don't often go to the cinema, we usually wait for the DVD or a TV showing, and secondly I am a fan of Jane Austen's novels.
I have to admit that I discovered Jane Austen quite late in life...I must have been close to thirty. I was aware of Pride and Prejudice from dramatisations but I had never studied Austen at school and had read none of her work until I picked up Emma one day. I was immediately hooked and literally read one book after another from the library, until I had read them all.
I hadn't actually thought much about the movie until my friend suggested going. Partly because I was uncertain about the casting of Anne Hathaway as Jane and partly because I didn't think there would be enough material in Jane's life to dramatise. Lonely spinster, anyone? It's been done before!
Well I have to say I did enjoy it. OK, the movie is a little long and could have had some of the slower parts edited out, especially at the beginning, but the performances are quite good, although I'm still not totally convinced by the casting of Jane. Anne Hathaway is just too perfectly pretty, especially in comparison to other family members, but her accent didn't jar, even if it didn't sound 100% Brit. (I have to be honest here, I hated Renee Zellweger's accent in Bridget Jones.)
The actual story material is built loosely around some known facts and depicts Jane's supposed first love, at the age of twenty, with an Irish lawyer. The sexual chemistry between Hathaway and James McAvoy who played Tom sparked and the screenplay was written just like an Austen novel with obvious character and plot parallels with Pride and Prejudice.
It's the sort of movie to be seen for what it is...not strictly accurate biography, but a fictional entertainment based on and influenced by Jane Austen. If you are an Austen fan, enjoy!
(If you are in the UK don't forget the current TV season of Austen's work either...)