The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) is a feisty twenty-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 (Laurence Fox), nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham (Dame Maggie Smith), as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), 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
What a great opportunity this is. It seems Austen is more filmed in various ways than any other novelist. Why not invent a fictional story that has her in situations cloned from her (only six) novels?
Why not use Ann Hathaway, who was smart and good enough to give the master performance in "Brokeback Mountain," serving as one of the two on-screen controls? She knew there that she had to play a woman who was creating the story she lived in and expected others to. I was really impressed at this, and others must have been as well. This is how an authoress might best be played when the story is her writing of her story.
Why not populate it with all sorts of surrounding texture the way Austen does? It seems all this was decided.
But then the other essential bits were left off. To do this right, you must use the same sort of cinematic vocabulary that she used in writing. We do know how to use the eye this way, something that is unrelentingly curious, deep and ironic in the simple sense she used.
It cannot be ordinary in the BBC TeeVee movie way, that sort of shortcut to watching that is economical to make and watch. And it cannot have those modern racking tricks (where one focal plane is changed to another to reveal a different perspective). Those were actually pretty good here, but wholly inappropriate for the project.
One thing was extraordinary. Toward the end, we see our woman 15 or 20 years later. The aging makeup was very effective. This was a different woman we see, one who has become something that underscores what they probably set out to make and got off track.
One blot is James Cromwell. He's a blot in everything except where he plays the evil lawyer. Are there no other men in Hampshire?
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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