I'm really not a big fan of what's referred to as "period films." However, after watching The Jane Austen Book Club, I was intrigued to know more about this author whose popularity has clearly sustained. In Becoming Jane, Anne Hathaway takes on the role of Jane Austen at a pivotal point in her life.
Jane Austen comes from a family of what they call "slight fortune." Her father is a vicar for the local church. While they have a nice home, and many friends, with other siblings, the only hope for the daughters in the family appears to be marriage, preferably to "marry up." In Becoming Jane, we get a front row seat of what these not quite prearranged, but clearly carefully guided, marriages that must have one objective: to marry someone with more dough than your family. While this recurring theme occurs in many of Austen's works, this is because the author experienced this herself.
Anne Hathaway as Jane did a good job of portraying this complex character who gets torn between a relationship for love, and one for money. There are also good supporting performances from James McAvoy, James Cromwell, and Julie Walters.
However, there are two downsides to Becoming Jane. The first is that this film is long, and slowly paced making it better suited to a matinee than night viewing which can degenerate into a snooze fest. The other is that there are many characters, and on several scenes for too long I was trying to figure out who all these folks were which points to a screenplay that lacked some clarity.
Overall, Becoming Jane is a grand look at the storied live of this beloved author. With period costumes and scenery, it's visually quite strong and interesting. I believe that fans of the author will be pleased.
Overall Grade: B
Reviewed by Jonas