Say what you like... my opinion is based upon personal preference. Not without flaws, I enjoyed Becoming Jane even more the second time around. (And yes, I have read all of Jane Austen's novels... several times...)
Superbly acted. A sweeping score. Smart screenplay. (Warning Spoilers- read no further if you don't already know Jane Austen's romantic travails.)
Whether founded in truth or not, the story kept me engaged long after the credits. Even haunting me while I slept. Was it the poignancy of her doomed romantic circumstances? (It takes two to...waltz.) Or the admission that a female novelist can't have it all- marriage, family and career? I found myself relating to the peaks and valleys. As a writer, a searing new story idea can tear me in one direction... and "what's for dinner" in the other, and soccer chauffeuring in yet another. As 19th century as it sounds, domestic commitment is a reality.
For me. (At least while I have school age children.)
I was swept up by the interludes- the misunderstandings, the eye contact, the desperate kiss, the jeering arguments in the forest (How romantic these passionate arguments are on screen! In real life? I'd smack him. Well, she DID smack him at one point. But it lead to a kiss, and hmmm- in the 21st century?... I don't know. But hey, it works for me on screen!)
Anne Hathaway- as Jane Austen. She crafted this part exceedingly well. A far step beyond Diaries and Prada. Her longing, anguish, and tears- genuine.
James McAvoy- as Tom LeFroy. Perfectly geeky, and yet, eye-chocolate in so many intelligent ways. Cool to a tee. Marvelous acting- in pitch and timing. (He had ME convinced. I was running away at dawn!)
First up- saw him in Narnia, and thought- this man is way too alluring for a faun... then, bring on the C4! he's casted in The Last King of Scotland, Starter For Ten, Becoming Jane, Penelope, Atonement, and Wanted.
Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, and James Cromwell all acted their chops off. Very fine. And Anna Maxwell Martin- something MUST be said about her performance- beguiling and demure as Cassandra, Jane's older sister. Her bereavement scene was all too genuine.)
One of my many favorite scenes:
Jane is eagerly seeking Mr LeFroy at the Ball. But instead., her fateful search brings her to a dance with Mr Wisley- a suitor that she had recently rebuffed. Midway through the dance she is suddenly swept into Tom's lead- eyes locked upon one another in magnetic discovery. Enchanting.
Loved the screenwriters cunning references to situations in Austen's novels. Contrary to what some reviewers had to say, I think these clever references made it all the more fun. Very fun indeed. But not without "trouble." (Bring tissues.)
Quote during their first dance:
Tom LeFroy: "I think that you, Miss Austen, consider yourself a cut above the company...
Jane Austen: Me?
Tom LeFroy: You, ma'am. Secretly.
Take THAT, oh-ye-highbrow reviewers...