Julian Jarrold gave us Kinky Boots in 2005, and now helms something I thought of as more solemn in tone with the biographical tale of literary legend Jane Austen in Becoming Jane, starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy in yet another period dramatic piece since Atonement. Here, they play star crossed lovers who get embroiled with the rigidity of class, honour and reputation back in Old England, with him being a legal student, and she, a budding novelist, where at the time isn't a career choice (if at all) for a female.
Sounds like Pride and Prejudice? Yes. If the movie is to be believed, then the love and life of Jane Austen served very much as the basis and seed for the premise of that novel of hers, and for an audience, probably ample opportunity to soak in the scenes that ring a bell, and compare Hathaway's performance as Austen to Keira Knightley's performance as her created character Elizabeth Bennet. The two characters couldn't be more alike, with one being almost an autobiographical account of the life she's facing as a single woman of marriageable age, and what more, being wooed by a Mr Darcy equivalent in Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy).
Also, the tale moved along quite similarly to that of Miss Potter, which tells of the story of the creator of Peter Rabbit, where we're plunged headlong into the critical crossroads of their professional life as well. Or like that of Finding Neverland, yet another adaptation of the life and times of JM Barrie, who gave us Peter Pan where inspiration is as chronicled in the movie. Could there be more biographical movies about writers on their way to screens soon?
I thought Anne Hathaway finally got a meatier, more mature role here, and what more, starring as a legend too in Jane Austen. However, I can't deny that her faux pas English accent was found somewhat wanting and proved to be a distraction of sorts. She did manage, though, to bring out the pain that Jane had to go through in having to hold out on love, find it, lose it, like the adage says, better to have loved once and lost than never at all. James McAvoy's performance here is a notch below that which he delivered in Atonement, probably because it's something that has already been done to death (not another Mr Darcy clone!).
The last 10 minutes was a kick too in seeing how visibly aged the characters become, thanks to wonderful make up. Other than that, sit tight for a romantic drama which as I mentioned, had much ado about Pride and Prejudice, that at times you might lapse into thinking it is that movie that you're watching.
For those who want to find out more about the life of Jane Austen, click on this link to the Wiki site.