“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Perhaps one of my most favorite lines of all in Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen is, by far, one of my most favorite writers ever.
So when I got an email from MotherTalk, the subject line caught my eye. Would I like to review the movie Becoming Jane? That’s like asking if ice cream is good any time of the day. I hit that reply button so fast my eyes were swimming. I was curious to see exactly how this fictionalized account of a young Jane Austen would play out. I chose to go with zero expectations.
Now is a good time to admit that I am a Jane Austen snob. A Jane Austen purist. Jane. Austen. Obsessed.
As a condition for accepting my husband’s marriage proposal, I may have required him to watch all 6 hours of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. It took me two years to realize that my wedding dress that I bought off a rack was exactly like the one Gwyneth Paltrow wore in Emma. I have been known, on occasion, to pop Pride and Prejudice Part I into the dvd player to pass a Saturday morning. I probably spent HOURS on the phone discussing the absurdity of making a Pride and Prejudice movie that ran less than 6 hours. With Colin Firth nowhere to be found. I have Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility (or Sense and Sensitivity as Kate likes to refer to it) stacked on my nightstand for those moments that I just need a decent, reliable, amiable read.
So how was it? Hands down, Anne Hathaway’s performance was fabulous. My girl has had a tough run getting past the sweetness that is The Princess Diaries and I’m thinking people will finally start to take her seriously now. Coming on to the screen with the wit of Lizzy, I began to see glimpses Marianne and even Emma on occasion. Her portrayal contained the exact amount of spunk I imagined a young Jane Austen to have. As Austen’s love interest in the film, James McAvoy’s Tom Lefroy made me want to climb up and lick the screen. The chemistry between Jane and Tom was just that good. Let’s all admit it. We all know that the Perfect Man would have Darcy’s intelligence, Wickham’s rakishness and Willoughby’s dreaminess.
Writers Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams cleverly wove Austen characters into the people surrounding Austen in Becoming Jane without offending your intelligence. Clever because you were constantly surprised that a character that you assumed would fit into a mold actually had the traits of a very different (or even more than one) Austen character. Without offense because it is more realistic to believe that Austen’s characters in her novels were not replicas of the people she knew but the sum of her life experiences.
Loosely adapted from the early life of Jane Austen, this fictional account of what might have been was a great way to spend an evening in a theater. You should check it out.