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Becoming Jane

August 24, 2010

Becoming Jane (2006)
Director: Julian Jarrold
Actors: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters

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Synopsis: The affairs of the heart of Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway).

Review: Essentially a dull and pointless re-imagining of Jane Austen’s personal life as informant to her later literary career, Julian Jarrold’s workmanlike production probably just about ekes out any remaining novelty or goodwill from the last ten years’ cycle of Austen film adaptations.

My spirit sunk when the first twenty minutes seemed to confirm my worst fears – namely that Becoming Jane might be a desperately transparent and clumsy ‘postmodern’ retread of “Pride and Prejudice” with Austen’s life going for that of her literary incarnation, Elizabeth Bennet. The parental characterisations are nigh-on identical, as are the rogue’s gallery of inappropriate suitors, and even Jarrold’s production with its ‘rustic’ aesthetic and muted palette, angles far too closely to Joe Wright’s recent tasteful Pride and Prejudice. It is to the credit of Becoming Jane and its participants therefore that it achieves some sense of momentum and poignancy by wisely keeping a respectful distance from this potentially crude paradigm, although the film never fully escapes the feint whiff of redundancy. Perhaps it’s time for this generation of filmmakers to finally puts Ms Austen out to the pasture, and leave her work and legacy for another age to remodel. (June 2007)

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