Jane Austen is an important name in English literature. She was born on 16 December, 1775 in England and breathed her last on 18 July, 1817. This is a review of her Biopic- ‘Becoming Jane’ that was released in 2007.
“Affection is desirable, money is absolutely indispensable”, tells an exasperated Mrs Austen to Jane, her talented daughter who is single minded focused upon making a living out of writing or “living by my pen” as she declares with evident confidence. The 2007 movie ‘Becoming Jane’ depicts the journey of the second daughter of one respected but middle class Austen family that lived in Hampshire, England in the Victorian era during the reign of King George III. The movie begins with her trying her hands at the piano at their huge house deep in the country side and confessing her love of writing to her good-natured but hapless elder sister Cassandra. Her clergyman father, Reverend Austen, feels proud of Jane’s aspirations but her mother scorns her writing and wants her to focus solely upon getting married before her age slips by. Then, in her otherwise single and insipid life, like a breath of fresh air, arrives Tom Lefroy (Thomas Langlois Lefroy) a young but penniless law student living off his snooty uncle’s pittance. After some initial misunderstandings and arguments, they fall deeply in love. However, they are star crossed and as the Cupid seems to be sullen with the match, they separate but after sometime despite being engaged to a rich girl, Lefroy again asks for his former lover’s hand, for he realizes the depth of his feelings for that beautiful and sensible budding writer. Here, the story takes another spin and we see Jane taking a decision she does not regret. Years later, she is shown to have become a famous writer and often addressed as ‘The Jane Austen’ with awe and admiration by everyone.
The movie has many other interesting characters and if you have read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that was initially titled ‘First Impressions’ you will be easily able to identify many of the characters of the novel like Lady Catherine, Willam Darcy, Mr. Collins, Jane and of course, Elizabeth Bennet who was inspired by author’s very own self. Her personal life only was the inspiration for this work, except that the ending was as she had always desired her love life to be- happy and prosperous.
Returning to the movie, actress Anne Hathaway who has portrayed Jane Austen, has delivered a praiseworthy performance. However, she differs much from the author in person as unlike hers, Austen’s face was round and features were smaller. The Victorian styled flowing dresses, old-school chivalry, feather hats, ballroom parties, churches, houses, horse-carriages and the beautiful English countryside are enough to create a likable background, imparting a real appeal to the movie. The dialogues are well penned and the pace is neither fast nor slow. However, initially it becomes a bit confusing to remember the characters as so many of them are introduced all of a sudden within minutes. Apart from that, this movie is pretty enjoyable and throws much light not only upon Jane Austen’s headstrong persona, maturity and love for literature & writing but also upon the condition of women who were coerced by the society to direct all their wit and charms in securing good husbands for themselves as well as upon the pitiable state of women writers in that era. This movie does not cover her final days; she died young at the age of 41 of a prolonged illness.