Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, August 13, 2007

Is Anne Hathaway too Becoming to be Jane?

Over the weekend,I was catching up on reviews of Becoming Jane(which is not playing at a theater near me,despite getting a wider release. Boo!)and noticed a common theme in many of the write-ups on the film. On Ebert and Roeper,Richard Roeper commented that Anne Hathaway seemed to be "too voluptous and sexy" to be playing Jane Austen. Voluptous? Yes, empire waist gowns are made to highlight a woman's bosom but we are talking about Anne Hathaway here,not Pamela Anderson!

But Roeper was not the only one to comment on Hathaway's beauty affecting her role as Jane Austen. Here are a few other examples:

"That's particularly true of Anne Hathaway, playing Jane. She is extraordinarily attractive, which the historical Jane was not, and does lot of scribbling. But Hathaway never makes us think the woman could write anything more complex than a diet book. The real novelist must have been, even at the tender age she is supposed to be in this film, a much more ferocious creature, determined to make her way as a writer, certain that love — and it is said that she had other, perhaps more meaningful flirtations than this one — must prove a distraction from writing."-Richard Schickel,
Time Magazine

" So why not reimagine Austen as a lithe brunette with pillowy lips and airbrushed skin, a magnificent creature who looks remarkably like Anne Hathaway? And why not give her a bold, witty suitor -- James McAvoy, anyone? -- who looks smashing in his velvet frockcoats and dashingly masculine leather boots? Part of the pleasure of watching movies comes from looking at beautiful people: Choosing a "plainer" Jane (there are very few likenesses of the author for us to go on, anyway) wouldn't have made "Becoming Jane" a better or more authentic movie, but perhaps only duller to look at."-Stephane Zacherek,Salon.com

"Ms. Hathaway , who is almost too pretty for the role, recalls the young Judy Garland, with her panicky stare and cherry lips."- Stephen Holden,New York Times

This bothers me on two levels;one,that Jane Austen is considered to have been unattractive and two,that Anne Hathaway can't portray a author of classic literature because she's so pretty and pretty girls don't need to use their brains,now do they? First off,Jane Austen did have a social life(a small one,to be sure,but she did have one) and a few suitors in her day,folks. She wasn't Paris Hilton but she certainly wasn't a female Quasimodo either!

Not to mention that I hate the whole stereotype of "serious women writers not being beauty queens and they're better people for it!". Look,I know that may seem comforting to some of us that stayed home alot on Saturday nights and yes,some of the classic female authors weren't red hot mommas but is that what we're supposed to be judging the quality of their work on? I think some of those ladies would find that highly insulting.

As to Hathaway's looks inpeding her performance,I'm not buying it for a minute. Is she better looking than Austen was in real life? Probaly,but so what? She resembles her enough to be belivable and from what I've read and heard,her British accent is nicely done and she has some good chemistry with her co-stars,which is all of the basics covered there.

When Nicole Kidman played Virginia Woolf in The Hours,she was praised to the skies and got more respect(not to mention an Oscar win)than Hathaway and no disrespect intended to Woolf(who was also an Austen fan)but even with the fake nose,Kidman's alot prettier than Virginia was.

Most actors and actresses who play famous people are not dead ringers for that person-did Lillian Hellman really look like Jane Fonda? Was Mary Steenburgen a separated at birth twin for Majorie Kinnan Rawlings? Maybe Helen Hanff did bear a striking resembalance to Anne Bancroft,maybe not. Appearance is part of the performance but not the be-all and the end all. It's the talent of the actor that truly matters and can save or sink a film.

If you don't like Becoming Jane because you find it to not be your cup of tea or you disagree with the reel vs. real facts of Austen's life,those are legitmate reasons to criticize the film. Saying in essence that Anne Hathaway is "too pretty" to be Jane Austen is a cop-out,in my opinion. Most of the reviews for the film have been positive(even the NYT one that I qouted from) but I place more value on even a negative review of Becoming Jane that doesn't resort to Heathers tactics.

1 comment:

Pop Culture Diva said...

I haven't seen the movie but hope to very soon. That's crap. AH is cute but she's no Charlize Theron. Some could argue that AH isn't pretty but she is winning and I think her charm makes her more lovely. That's what happened in Devil Wears Prada.