Friday, June 3, 2016

Movie Reviews of the Jane Austen Variety

A few weeks ago I watched Becoming Jane (2007) on Netflix, and was a bit disappointed.  I usually am a fan of period pieces, but this one was boring and predictable.  It stars Anne Hathaway (Devil Wears Prada and The Dark Night Rises) and James McAvoy (The newer X-Men movies and Atonement), both excellent for the period piece genre, but together they just couldn't hold my attention.  Jane Austen lives in a quaint country house with a quaint country family, and has dreams of finding deep, passionate love.  She also dreams of being an independent women who makes a living through her writing.

Those two things seem to contradict themselves, especially in the times that it is set.  Women pray that they are pretty enough to attract a well-endowed suitor to which they can be a good wife to and have servants to feed the pigs and do the wash, rather than be independent women and do it themselves.  Jane wants to gain life experience for her writing, but falling in love after a few flirty and suggestive conversations with the city boy with a reputation (McAvoy) doesn't seem to be the life experience she needs for inspiration.

Not much is known about Austen's personal life, and it is clear that they relied much on her novels to come up with the story for this movie about her love life.  But really, this just made me want to watch the superior Jane Austen film, Pride and Prejudice (2005).  Jane is a very interesting character, but it seemed that she tried so hard in this movie to be someone around other people that she just wasn't, whereas in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) is true to her convictions (and ideas about love) from the very beginning.  It also has a superior supporting cast featuring Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench, and a host of young, to-be-famous-in-the-future women as the sisters.

I guess this is why her novels are so popular and revered (side note; I myself have never read one).  Through her imagination and writing, she was able to put herself into her characters and live life how she would have wanted.  If you're in the mood for a little old English verbal sparring, skip Becoming Jane in favor of Pride and Prejudice.  The production design is better, the characters are more intriguing, and the love interest is dreamier.  And aren't those the big things you want in a Jane Austen period piece?

(photos collected from frockflicks, images2.fanpop, upload.wikimedia, janeaustensworld,, images4.fanpop, and images-cdn.moviepilot)

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