Monday, 19 March 2007

Becoming Jane

With an interesting concept, accomplished cast and a fond public on its side, 'Becoming Jane' was always going to be relatively well-received. Anne Hathaway convincingly brings alive the frustrated author, torn between duty, passion and her conviction that works written by men and women have equal validity and promise. The 'Pride and Prejudice'-like romance between Austen and Tom Lefroy seems to jerk from antipathy to true love, creating a paradox due to the film's lack of pace in other aspects of the story. This may reflect the lack of historical background material regarding the supposed courtship and love affair, though it does create the effect of a slightly awkward gear change half-way through the film.

Visually, the eighteenth century comes alive, and the slow unfurling of the story may be considered atmospheric, particularly the opening soundless sequence. However, it really needed either more atmosphere or more substance to utterly convince, instead the result is an uneasy mix of conventional love story and stylistic imagery. The questions surrounding Austen's life and love that 'Becoming Jane' tries to answer are indeed intriguing, and for that reason I would say it is worth watching. Unfortunately though, it falls short of 'Shakespeare in Love'.

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