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Review: Becoming Jane

As if Jane Austen country hasn’t been charted to death already, Becoming Jane makes it literal.

Becoming Jane
Photo: Miramax Films

As if Jane Austen country hasn’t been charted to death already, Becoming Jane makes it literal (not to be confused with literate), as we experience how the Jane Austen we all know and love was shaped as a younger woman. Now, one does not have to be a scholar to know that Austen did not look like the runway-ready Anne Hathaway. If the fit is completely inapt, one reason might be that Hathaway still has not shed her doe-eyed, girlish impulses, rarely suggesting any sense of under-the-surface turmoil. But Hathaway can’t be completely blamed for Julian Jarrold’s ill-conceived stab at genteel Brit lit on screen, a movie that adds not one iota of freshness to works we were already tired of, ambling unsuccessfully for two hours to prove that a biopic about Jane Austen that barely acknowledges her fame is a startlingly bad idea. The movie’s one bright spot is James McAvoy, playing Austen’s non-complacent, impish Irish love interest. McAvoy, a marvelously attuned actor capable of tremendous range, has carved a career out of appearing in terrible films and being the most notable thing in them, and here is no exception. When the film takes its too frequent dips into bathos, McAvoy always throws the proceedings a curve. But in a film about such a central female, your attention shouldn’t be so duly focused on her co-star. Then again, this is the kind of movie where a young lady’s defiance is presented by her stepping forth in a boy’s cricket match. Oooohhh, the nerve! Not to put too fine a point on it, but this movie throws like a girl.

Cast: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith, Joe Anderson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Lucy Cohu, Laurence Fox, Ian Richardson Director: Julian Jarrold Screenwriter: Sarah Williams, Kevin Hood Distributor: Miramax Films Running Time: 120 min Rating: PG Year: 2007 Buy: Video

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