MOVIES: A BIT OF A PLAIN JANE; THE BIG RELEASE BECOMING JANE Cert PG, 121mins ***

The Mirror (London, England), March 9, 2007 | Go to article overview

MOVIES: A BIT OF A PLAIN JANE; THE BIG RELEASE BECOMING JANE Cert PG, 121mins ***


Byline: DAVID EDWARDS

She may have penned some of the best-loved romantic novels in the English language, but Jane Austen didn't have much luck in the bedroom department. Before she died in 1817, her romantic entanglements amounted to a single wedding proposal from a local aristo - which she turned down.

In other words, not exactly rich pickings for a romantic drama about the author's private life. Undeterred, the makers of Becoming Jane have elaborated on a supposed fling between the writer and a dashing young Irishman to deliver a tolerable romance.

Set in 1795, Jane (Anne Hathaway) is a feisty 20-year-old living at home with her parents (James Cromwell and Julie Walters) in rural Hampshire. Her days consist of trying to write her first novel and tea parties at the home of the icy lady of the manor, Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith), as her folks fret about Jane's chances of finding a suitable husband.

Excitement turns up with the arrival of Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), a trainee solicitor who's been sent to the sticks by his strict uncle as a way of curing him of a fondness for drinking, boxing and womanising.

And while Tom and Jane get off to a rocky start, our heroine soon ditches her pride and prejudices to fall for the dashing young rogue.

With Austen's popularity undimmed after all these years, and film adaptations of her books proving endlessly popular, a movie like this already has a huge inbuilt audience. But while it looks a lot like, say, 2005's excellent Pride & Prejudice, let's not forget this wasn't penned by Austen, but a couple of rather less talented modernday scriptwriters. …

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