In 1929 French Indochina, a French teenage girl embarks on a reckless and forbidden romance with a wealthy, older Chinese man, each knowing that knowledge of their affair will bring drastic consequences to each other.
Tony Leung Ka Fai,
The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen is a feisty 20-year-old and emerging writer who already sees a world beyond class and commerce, beyond pride and prejudice, and dreams of doing what was then nearly unthinkable - marrying for love. Naturally, her parents are searching for a wealthy, well-appointed husband to assure their daughter's future social standing. They are eyeing Mr. Wisley, nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham, as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy, sparks soon fly along with the sharp repartee. His intellect and arrogance raise her ire - then knock her head over heels. Now, the couple, whose flirtation flies in the face of the sense and sensibility of the age, is faced with a terrible dilemma. If they attempt to marry, they will risk everything that matters - family, friends and fortune. Written by
I was fortunate to come across an article explaining this film. It is a speculative fiction based upon a few facts. Speculation was aroused by the fact that a woman who never married and apparently never had a love affair came to have such a deep and intelligent understanding of relationships. I shan't expand on how potentially offensive that is. But story line is based on a few simple facts. While he was in the country Jane Austen would have almost certainly met Mr Lefroy; while on a journey to see her sister she had a rather long stop off in London during which time she began writing Pride and Prejudice and there was the mention of some letters.
It started out so well; the stifling quiet of a country life broken by our future genius at work. The structure of this opening sequence was very effective. I was thinking I'm going to love this film. But there was a niggling in the back of my mind. None of the reviews had been great, but I didn't know why (I hadn't actually read any only seen the 2 ½ or 3 stars).
I continued thinking it was wonderful through most of the film. James McAvoy was beautifully intense, Anne Hathaway was solid, Maggie Smith delightfully amusing and Anna Maxwell Martin underused. There were some beautiful scenes, some so intense. For example a scene in a ball when they are both standing back to back apparently to talking other people but having a very deep conversation.
But then, as with far too many movies we moved through the climax to an ending of this story line and that story line oh and we'd better conclude this one as well and now everything is tied up in a neat little bundle.
This is a film that would have benefited from an ambivalent ending, because, aside from the fact that we know she ends up the Western World's highest selling female author the film wasn't actually about that. The film was about the journey toward it. To have left us hanging when, perhaps, she was leaving Lefroy or back in her stiflingly quiet house would have been much more effective in terms of the story and strengthened the film. It simply is not a happy ending but they tried their damned well hardest to make it one.
I'm afraid I must give this a very generous 7 rather than what could have been a deserving 8 had the film makers (or the studio or whoever the twats are that decide on these things) the courage to make this a film, not Hollywood.
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