Drama PG Running time: 2:00
IMDB rating: 7.1 Aspect: Wide; Languages: English, French; Subtitles: French, Spanish; Audio: DD 5.1
Like Moliere, which was released in theaters around the same time, Becoming Jane isn't a conventional biopic. Instead, Julian Jarrold (White Teeth) expands on events from Jane Austen's life that may have shaped her fiction. To his credit, he doesn't stray too far from the facts. In 1795, 20-year-old Jane (Anne Hathaway with believable British accent) is an aspiring author. Her parents (Julie Walters and James Cromwell) married for love, and money is tight. They hope to see their youngest daughter make a more lucrative match, and there's a besotted local, Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox, son of actor James Fox), who would be happy to oblige. Unfortunately, Jane isn't interested. Then, she meets brash law student Tom (The Last King of Scotland's James McAvoy), while he's staying with relatives in rural Hampshire. As in many Austen novels, it isn't love at first sight--but rather irritation. Just as affection begins to bloom, Tom has to return to London, and Wisley, whose financial prospects are superior, proposes. To complicate matters, Tom's uncle (Ian Richardson in his final performance) disapproves of the outspoken young lady just as much as Wisley's aunt (Maggie Smith, lending the proceedings some subtle humor). Had Austen penned the script, Tom and Wisley would be combined into one person, but life doesn't work that way--and nor does Becoming Jane. Though Jarrold's effort may not be as swoon-worthy as Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, it remains true to the spirit of the author's work.