This film depicts the young Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) as she discovers her literary skills and her own affairs of the heart. It is loosely based on a speculative romance between her and a young Irish lawyer, Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy). The original screenplay was inspired by real events, which were chronicled in the book Becoming Jane Austen
by Jon Spence. Also stars Maggie Smith.
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.
Behind the Scenes
Regency Dance Featurette
Hair, Make-up & Costume Design Featurette
Filming the Cricket Scene
Filming the Boxing Scenes
, which was released in cinemas soon after, Becoming Jane
isn't a conventional biopic. Instead, Julian Jarrold (White Teeth
) expands on events from Jane Austen's life that may have shaped her fiction. To his credit, he doesn't stray too
far from the facts. In 1795, 20-year-old Jane (Anne Hathaway with believable British accent) is an aspiring author. Her parents (Julie Walters and James Cromwell) married for love, and money is tight. They hope to see their youngest daughter make a more lucrative match, and there's a besotted local, Mr. Wisley (Laurence Fox, son of actor James Fox), who would be happy to oblige. Unfortunately, Jane isn't interested. Then, she meets brash law student Tom (The Last King of Scotland
's James McAvoy), while he's staying with relatives in rural Hampshire.
As in many Austen novels, it isn't love at first sight--but rather irritation. Just as affection begins to bloom, Tom has to return to London, and Wisley, whose financial prospects are superior, proposes. To complicate matters, Tom's uncle (Ian Richardson in his final performance) disapproves of the outspoken young lady just as much as Wisley's aunt (Maggie Smith, lending the proceedings some subtle humor). Had Austen penned the script, Tom and Wisley would be combined into one person, but life doesn't work that way--and nor does Becoming Jane. Though Jarrold's effort may not be as swoon-worthy as Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, it remains true to the spirit of the author's work. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
--This text refers to the