Release date: Aug. 10, 2007
Main Cast: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Maggie Smith
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Run Time: 2 hours
Though Jane Austen’s (Anne Hathaway) financially strapped parents (James Cromwell, Julie Walters) expect her to marry the nephew of wealthy Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith), the young woman knows that such a union will destroy her creativity and sense of self-worth. Instead, she becomes involved with Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), a charming but penniless apprentice lawyer who gives her the knowledge of the heart she needs for her future career as a novelist.
I cannot believe I’ve gone almost 10 years without seeing this movie. For some reason I thought it was similar to the movie/book Austenland, even though I have never read or watched that either. As much as I adore Pride & Prejudice and Emma, I’m always skeptical of watching movies based on them. I’m not the biggest fan of the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice, and even movies loosely based on classics can just seem very sappy and over-done.
When I saw this on Netflix, I saw it had James McAvoy and Anne Hathaway, both of whom I love. Throughout the movie, I kept having to look up what was true and what wasn’t true. I had known before watching the movie that Jane Austen never married, so the idea of this movie being about a romance made me pause. I hadn’t realized Jane had a big romance in her life. Learning about Tom Lefroy was interesting, considering I’d never heard of him before. I know most of the movie was fictional, as were many of the characters, because what we know about Jane’s life is so limited.
How can you not love these actors? Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Maggie Smith, James Cromwell, Harry Andersen and so many more great people help bring this movie to life. McAvoy is one of my favorite actors, so when I saw he was the leading man, there was no way I couldn’t watch this movie. Everyone did such a great job that at no point was I bored or confused about anything. Hathaway did a wonderful job portraying Jane, both headstrong and wanting at the same time. She wants to please her parents, but she wants love as well, and is caught between doing what she wants and what they want.
Not surprisingly, the scenery in this reminded me a lot of Pride & Prejudice (2005). It has the same whimsical, ethereal feel to it that allows the viewer the ability to lose themselves in the story. I just love how green everything is. I know, it rains all the time because it’s England, so it’s super dreary, but that doesn’t mean I can’t romanticize it, okay?!
The Fictionalized Characters
I was annoyed to find out that Lady Gresham and Mr. Wisley weren’t real. In fact, the more Jane interacted with Mr. Wisley, the more I really liked him. He seemed sweet and shy, and reminded me a lot of Jane from Pride & Prejudice. I understand that some people just aren’t meant for others, but I really don’t think life with him would have been so bad. I can’t even lie, I secretly hoped they would have gotten together, even though I knew better. Ah well, the curse of unrequited love.
AND THIS ISN’T EVEN THE WORST SCENE. The worst scene is all about Cassandra, Jane’s sister, and was the saddest thing to watch. Obviously I actually loved the feels, but ugh, my poor heart.
If you’re a fan of period pieces, beautiful movie scores, and good actors, I would definitely recommend this movie. I was very pleasantly surprised by how beautiful Becoming Jane was, and wish they made more movies like this.
Do you have a favorite literary movie? Let me know in the comments!