Saturday, February 28, 2009


CHICK FLICK ETTIQUETTE TIP: Before you go to Jane Austen Summer Camp, be sure to pack your petticoat, Watteau gown, and plenty of barrier undies.


Jane Not Getting Married, Wanted by Jane, a stuffy Mrs. Weasley gets her carpet cleaned, Zefram Cochrane of Hampshire, Maggie the evil Dame, tea pots and stiff upper lips, wine whores and fisticuffs, unfulfilled love and poofy neckerchefs, and the origin of the most famous literary virgin not writing comic books.

More details here.


18th Century, England. Jane (Anne Hathaway) lives in comfy poverty with her devoted family on a struggling farm. She contributes to the daily chores in her humdrum rural life with dreams of becoming a novelist. Farmer Dad (James Cromwell) is facing financial difficulties and Mom (Julie Walters) hopes that marrying Jane off to wealthy Wisley (Laurence Fox) will save the farm and the family. But Jane is stubbornly independent and chronically free-thinking which annoys Wisley’s cantankerous aunt Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith). And dull ol’ Wisley does nothing to change ardent Jane’s mind and he pouts like a dorky 18th century teen dolt does. One day, Jane’s brother Henry (Joe Anderson) comes home with dashing cad Tom Lefroy (Jame McAvoy) who is to stay in the countryside after been admonished by his powerful uncle Judge Langlois (Ian Richardson). Tom is a wild and crazy guy, loves the ladies of the night, enjoys a barrel of wine or two, and indulges in beating up his pals. After trashing one of Jane’s stories as juvenile piffle, she comes to despise this unwelcome bounder. But, as Jane reluctantly learns, Tom is really a dreamboat, albeit a smelly one, and his loutish behavior masks a romantic, philosophizing soul that she eventually comes to love. Soon the pair engages in outrageous, scandalous behavior: strolling by the river, dancing within three feet of each other, and talking. And that horny bastard Tom may have caught a glimpse of Jane’s ankle. Gasp! When he learns of Jane’s family’s financial state, Langlois forbids Tom to marry her claiming she’s only after his money. What follows is heartbreak and tears, and Jane faces the inevitability of marrying Wisley for her family’s sake. But Tom returns to take her away and elope, despite his uncle and the evil mechanizations of Lady Gresham. But fate has a different destination in store for them, which results in some of the most beloved novels and stories in world literature, to say nothing of the huge sales in hankies and bon-bons.


Becoming Jane is based on anecdotal evidence of novelist Jane Austen’s brief flirtation with noted Irish politician Tom Lefroy in their younger days, and as a story, it’s a perfectly fine weepy romance, but as history it’s probably more of a stretch. The fans of Jane Austen are surely to enjoy these theorized tidbits about the adored author while dissecting the film for accuracies or lack thereof, but I was frankly kind of bored citing my already stated unfamiliarity with Austen. The movie drags towards the end, seemingly unwilling to come to the inevitable conclusion that Jane will forsake a married life on the fringe for her family and her art. But the endeavor to present a story on a personality whose private life went relatively undocumented is not envied, but the effort is nonetheless satisfying. The movie is essentially a reworking of Pride and Prejudice with the author as the main character, and its biggest problem is the theory that Austen wasn’t good until a man came into her life, told her how bad she was, and then broke her heart so that she may become the great writer she was destined to be. Laid out like that, the movie seems contemptible, right? But if you look at it another way, such as the message that every writer’s workshop I’ve even attended slogan-izes in dangerously Buddhist tones, the film’s message may be stated that to suffer is to write. Or maybe the screenwriters were sexist, reductionist jerks. Who knows? Anyway, Hathaway is good as Jane, despite her shaky accent which teeters between Austen and Ella Enchanted, while McAvoy proves yet again he is a believable and solid romantic lead. Becoming Jane tries to homage a woman who would one day be compared with the likes of Henry James and Shakespeare. And so what if the movie isn’t a historically accurate portrayal of Austen’s life? Fans will either love or hate this intriguing, if speculative, insight into her life which prompted yours truly to read Austen’s Wikipedia page with possible, if a bit hesitant, plans to pick up one of her books.

Is February over yet?

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