Saturday, February 28, 2009

BECOMING JANE

BECOMING JANE
Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith, Ian Richardson, Laurence Fox

"A woman especially if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can." - Jane Austen

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This period piece is based on the life of literary writer, Jane Austen. It specifically focuses on an episode in her colorful life which reveals her real-life romance which sad to say didn't have a happy ending. Drawing parallels with the characters in her famous classic novels, the film presents Jane (Anne Hathaway) like many of her heroines as a bright, strong-willed female. Growing up in an era where women had to marry merely for money and not for affection yet Jane wants something more than just to conform to society's rules. She meets her 'match' in the Irish lawyer, Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) But since they come from different spectrum of society, their romance is doomed.

At times, while watching "Becoming Jane" you get the impression you are watching a Merchant Ivory narrative based on a literary classic novel. Until you realize it is a biography of the author herself and not merely the film adaptation of one of her well loved novels. Then you start to recognize the themes and characters from her novels were drawn from her own life experiences. There's the devoted father, the nagging mother, loving sister, and, of course, the charming young man with whom the protagonist initially clashes but later falls for. They all seemed familiar that watching it unfold was like an eye opener, quite a revelation moment for the audience.

The cast led by Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy gave credible performances as the lead characters. As Jane Austen, Hathaway exudes intelligence and energy, playing exactly the sort of woman who appeared in the writer's work. James McAvoy is the perfect choice for Tom Lefroy, the good combination of rugged good looks with the glib tongue and dare I say the 'bad influence' to the prim and proper Jane. His charming presence was really worthy of a romantic leading man. The rest of the cast are ably represented by good British actors like Julie Walters, James Cromwell and Dame Maggie Smith.

"Becoming Jane" is an engaging look at the writer's life and her exciting love life. It ends with tiny snippets (which you can barely read, by the way) about the author's years after that brief romantic interlude. I was a bit saddened to learn that she never married simply because the 'love of her life' wasn't financially suitable for her status. But then I do applaud her feisty nature (using irony as the underlying themes of her novels) and her avant garde ways of being a woman ahead of her times and not letting society dictate the desires of her heart and her whole existence. And of course for her literary contribution through her well loved novels which remain quite popular even in this age of facebook, twitter and plurk!

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