Let me just say this right off the bat (in case you were unaware), Jane Austen is the greatest author of all time. I suppose some might dare to call that an opinion, but we Janeites of the world know far better. At this point, one or two of you might be thinking, "who the heck is Jane Austen?" or pbs sanditon season 2 total chick writer." If these sad thoughts are, in fact, running through your brain, please do go back to watching Orange County Choppers.
Anyway, naturally a movie about the world's greatest author was bound to attract the attention of her most ardent fan (that would be me, by the way). Becoming Jane is a basically fictionalized account of Jane Austen's early adulthood and her relationship with a young lawyer named Tom Lefroy.
The movie is controversial on two points, and I shall address each. Initially, there is some disagreement as to whether an American actress (Anne Hathaway) should portray England's beloved Jane. Hathaway's portrayal of Austen is entirely heartfelt, bringing the author's warm, witty personality to life. Her accent was well done, a few misses to be sure, but overall quite believable. As an American, I contend I may be less particular on this issue.
The next issue hinges on the believability of the movie's plot. No one knows for sure the depth of the actual relationship between Austen and Lefroy. The movie makes several leaps of faith, creating a deep love between the two main characters. There is, of course, little substantial proof that Austen and Lefroy were as close as the movie suggests. By her own account, she was fond of him, and the general consensus among Austen scholars is that Lefroy was the basis for Mr. Darcy (for those of you who continued reading up to this point instead of turning on The Deadliest Catch, Mr. Darcy is a hero of Austen's classic Pride Prejudice).
I, for one, refuse to dwell on these controversies. Anne Hathaway is lovely, gifted actress, and I am not so much of a purist that I can't abide taking a few liberties with my beloved Jane's life story. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire movie. You truly get a sense of Jane as a person, and it was obvious how much of her life inspired her work. Her relationship with her sister, Cassandra, was portrayed beautifully, the two clearly were the best of friends. After watching the movie, one feels a deeper understanding of her novels, and perhaps more importantly of the era in which she lived and the constraints placed upon women, especially, but also the men of the time. I encourage all Austen fans to partake of Becoming Jane.