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Becoming Jane (2007)

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A biographical portrait of a pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman.

Director:

Julian Jarrold

Writers:

Jane Austen (letters), Kevin Hood | 1 more credit »
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne Hathaway ... Jane Austen
James McAvoy ... Tom Lefroy
Julie Walters ... Mrs. Austen
James Cromwell ... Reverend Austen
Maggie Smith ... Lady Gresham
Anna Maxwell Martin ... Cassandra Austen
Lucy Cohu ... Eliza De Feuillide
Laurence Fox ... Mr. Wisley
Ian Richardson ... Judge Langlois
Joe Anderson ... Henry Austen
Leo Bill ... John Warren
Jessica Ashworth ... Lucy Lefroy
Eleanor Methven Eleanor Methven ... Mrs. Lefroy
Michael James Ford Michael James Ford ... Mr. Lefroy
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor ... Robert Fowle
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Storyline

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 Orange

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Becoming a woman. Becoming a legend. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief nudity and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

UK | Ireland

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 August 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jane See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£649,323 (United Kingdom), 11 March 2007, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$972,066, 5 August 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$18,670,946

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$37,311,672
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The white overdress with pink and green stripes Jessica Ashworth (Lucy Lefroy) wears to the Laverton Fair, is the same costume worn by Carey Mulligan (Isabella Thorpe) when she first meets Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey (2007). See more »

Goofs

When Jane and Tom are walking toward the boxing match, a blond soldier dressed in a red uniform walks in front of them smiling then passes towards the fight. A couple of seconds later, Jane and Tom have barely taken a few steps and the same character is repeated but they are not saying the same things. See more »

Quotes

Eliza De Feuillide: Flirting is a woman's trade, one must keep in practice
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #33.85 (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

A Trip to Paris
Traditional
From Walsh's 'New Country Dancing Master, 2d Book' (1711)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A questionable premise
5 March 2007 | by tomboy236See all my reviews

Hollywood can't seem to get enough of dead female English writers. Hot on the heels of Miss Potter, and in advance of films about the Brontes, we have this romantic confection about Jane Austen's youthful fling with Irish barrister Tom Lefroy.

There have already been howls of criticism from outraged Janeites that the film is historically inaccurate. It's true that English teachers will have a fit at some elements of the story: at best speculative and unsubstantiated, at worst downright erroneous. The filmmakers admittedly didn't have a lot of historical material to work from. The true background to the story is contained in a couple of letters written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, and an admission by Tom Lefroy in old age that he had once been in 'boyish love' with the writer. On this slightly shaky platform, the filmmakers have built a story of repressed passion and defiance of social mores that is a work of fiction worthy of a novel in its own right.

This doesn't really matter. Nobody in their right mind would ever accept the version of events presented by a Hollywood biopic as historical gospel. The only viewers who will be taken in by the story seen here will be those who are too lazy, too uninterested or too credulous to do the modicum of research needed to find out the real facts, and who cares what such people think? This film may be largely untrue, but what really matters is whether it works on its own terms, qua film.

Unfortunately, it doesn't, or at least not entirely. The main reason for this is the underlying premise. It is implied that without Jane and Tom's youthful affair Jane Austen would never have written her six great novels, and in particular (perhaps because it's the most familiar to audiences) Pride and Prejudice. We see Jane angrily destroying a juvenile story criticized by Tom, and later, in the throes of love, bashing out the first draft of P & P (in a single night, which shows an impressive turn of speed). It's plain that, as Tom tells her, 'experience is vital'.

The same clunkingly literal idea – that an artist must experience emotions in order to write about them successfully - underscored Shakespeare in Love, but there it was handled with a rather lighter touch. Here we are asked to believe that Pride and Prejudice was not a distillation of all Jane Austen's youthful experiences enlivened by a vivid imagination, a sharp sense of humour and a dollop of literary genius, but the next best thing to a true story. The reasons for this approach are obvious: cinema can dramatize Johnny Cash learning the guitar, or Picasso experimenting with paint, but the spectacle of a writer sitting at a desk dreaming and scribbling palls pretty rapidly.

The irony of a film that takes such wild liberties with the facts relying upon this trite old idea would certainly have been apparent to Jane Austen, whose mastery of irony is emphasized rather unsubtly throughout. Moreover, it's intellectually dishonest; lacking the ability to create a Mr Darcy, the filmmakers borrow freely from Jane Austen's characterisation in creating Tom, and thereby cheekily suggest that the author was the one who lacked the imagination to make such a person up.

These reservations aside, does the film have anything going for it? Yes. The script has some witty moments and at least makes a decent stab at realistic 18th century dialogue. Ireland is a surprisingly effective and gorgeous substitute for Hampshire, and the autumnal palette of washed-out greens and greys is appropriately sombre. Anne Hathaway is an attractively skittish and impetuous Jane, and she has excellent chemistry with James McAvoy, whose performance as Tom, by turns mercurial and obsessive, is well up to his usual high standards. Reliable support comes from James Cromwell, Julie Walters, the late great Ian Richardson and Maggie Smith, who essentially reprises her character from Gosford Park. The problem is that the lovers' behaviour never really convinces us that this relationship was the foundation of Jane Austen's later literary success, and ultimately peters out into a series of implausible endings, the number of which gives Hot Fuzz and The Return of the King a run for their money. Becoming Jane isn't an awful film, but it doesn't make the grade as a Regency Brief Encounter.


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