Rebel With a Cause
In an age where daughters found themselves being paired up with some one of wealth and expected to be nothing more than the woman of the house, 20 year old Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) was a feisty rebel. Not only did Jane wish to marry out of love but she also longed to become a writer, something which many poured scorn on. But Jane finds herself becoming attracted to Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy) a forthright young man who despite having just qualified as a lawyer is less than pleased that his guardian has sent him to live in the country with his cousins for a while to teach him a lesson about his tardiness.
I wonder what Jane Austen would have felt if she some how returned to discover that her life story, or at least a fraction of it, had been turned into romantic entertainment for the masses. I don't know but I hazard a guess that whilst a writer of romantic drama I might think she would have been annoyed that this biopic focused predominantly on her brief nut intense relationship with Tom Lefroy rather than telling how she came to be a popular author and rebelling against the tradition of what was expected of her.
Anyway as to "Becoming Jane" we have a pretty typical romance where we have two opinionated people with strong personalities and ideas that clash with sparks flying until they admit their feelings for each other run deeper. But just as typically we have a society which tries to keep them apart with Jane's parents wanting her to marry in to money, as was the custom, and Tom's guardian not permitting him to marry what he perceived was a money grabber. Yes there are rumblings of unrest when it comes to Jane's literary aspirations but for the most this feels distinctly typical only really becoming original when it comes to Jane's decision over whether to run away with Tom or not. Look I can understand why those who enjoy the romance of Jane Austen's novels will enjoy "Becoming Jane" but for me knowing more about Jane the writer would have been a lot more interesting.
Despite this both Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy do a nice job of playing their parts especially initially when it comes to their personalities clashing when they first meet. But to be honest there comes a point where the acting seems to get lost beneath the costumes and beyond the cheekiness of Lucy Cohu's smile as Jane's friend Eliza De Feuillide it becomes forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "Becoming Jane" is more of a romantic drama for those who enjoyed the romantic drama of Jane Austen's novels. For me I would have preferred a stronger focus of Jane's aspirations as a writer and the obstacles she confronted in becoming a published author.