I wanted to watch Becoming Jane because I’m a fairly recent convert to Jane Austen’s work (though I must confess, more the TV serials than the books at this stage, but I’m working on it!) and I suspected that this semi-autobiographical film would be filled with the same sort of romance and tragedy as her novels. And boy, was I right. The beautiful Anne Hathaway plays Jane Austen, and her love interest Tom Lefroy is played by the delightfully dishy James McAvoy. And for saying neither hail from posh-accent country (Hathaway is American and McAvoy is Scottish), they both play the parts excellently.
The film begins with Jane attending a frightfully posh society party, and although no words are spoken, her actions clearly say that she is eagerly seeking someone out at that party. Someone she desperately wants to see. This turns out to be Tom Lefroy and on setting eyes on one another their feelings for one another are as plain as day. All very romantic, as is the kiss and the confession of feelings in the garden.
As is often the case, particularly in that day and age, the course of true love never runs smooth. For Tom lives with his wealthy uncle, on whom he depends to make a living, and because of Jane’s background (her father is a rector, therefore their family is not well off) it is unlikely he will bless their marriage. Jane’s life also has other complications, mainly a marriage proposal she has received from the horribly dull Mr Wisley which she has no inclination to accept, though she is under increasing pressure to do so because of his wealth and connections.
Therefore it seems the young lovers are destined never to be together. Eventually, though, they come to realise they cannot live with one another and decide to sacrifice everything for their love, and elope to Scotland. On their travels their stagecoach becomes stuck in mud and Tom is called upon to help remove it. Jane holds his coat and discovers a letter from his mother, thanking him for some money he sent to them, and how they couldn’t possibly manage without it. She is distraught to think that she is going to be depriving the Lefroys of financial aid by marrying their son, and she breaks it off with Tom and goes back to her family, heartbroken.
In real life, Jane Austen never married, and it is rumoured that Tom Lefroy is the reason why. It is said he was the only man she ever loved and the fact she could never be with him meant she was willing to live a life alone, and she became independent and made money from her writing. Nobody really knows how true any of this is, but it’s an incredibly romantic film and it brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion. Moving and well cast. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good love story, and fans of Austen.