“Becoming Jane” is a period film set in England in 1795, and follows the tale of forbidden love between famed author Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) and the dashing Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy).
Austen at this time was only 20 years old, and had yet to pen the six novels which were to become some of the best known works of fiction in the English language, including “Sense And Sensibility” and “Pride And Prejudice”. She came from a poor family, and her parents (played to perfection by James Cromwell and Julie Walters) were desperate for Jane, their youngest daughter, to marry into a rich family. Their sights were set on the nephew of their wealthy neighbour, Lady Gresham (Maggie Smith). Yet Jane, already in love with the power of the written word, fell for another neighbour’s cousin, the penniless Tom Lefroy, and the film follows them as they plan their escape from the old English world of tradition and decorum.
For anyone familiar with Jane Austen’s work, “Becoming Jane” gives a rare insight into the woman behind well-known characters such as Mr Darcy. For those unfamiliar with her books, the film is a stunning masterpiece from British director Julian Jarrold (“Kinky Boots”). Meticulous research was carried out so the costumes are both exquisite and historically true. But the true gem is the cinematography. Eigil Bryld (who also worked with Jarrold on “Kinky Boots”) has captured light and mood in way that is rare in film. There are times you feel the chill of the breeze on your face and the crunch of autumn leaves under your foot. Brilliant performances by the actors are enhanced by the camera and Adrian Johnston’s score, making this a dazzling visual feast.