Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Top Ten things I learned from Becoming Jane

I was finally able to watch Becoming Jane this weekend,the much talked about mainstream movie about Jane Austen's younger days and her possibly meaningful romance with Tom Lefroy. While the film plays about with many of the known facts about Jane Austen(such as having her meet up with Gothic author Ann Radcliffe),it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Part of the reason for that is the chemistry generated by Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy as the feisty lovers(I so get the whole swoon-a-thon about McAvoy now)and even when they're not together onscreen,both actors do a very credible job in making their characters compelling and as real as the script allows them to be.

It also helps to have such a strong supporting cast of top notch English actors surrounding them,like Julie Walters,James Cromwell and Maggie Smith(who is clearly meant to be a fictional Lady Catherine stand in). Plenty of Pride & Prejudice hints are strewn about,which is fine but Jane did write other books just as memorable as that one,folks.

Personally,I always thought that Tom LeFroy was the man in mind when Jane wrote Persuasion,about being given a second chance at love. In actuality,Austen and LeFroy's relationship was discouraged from going too far,due to his family wanting him to marry someone with more money and better connections(which the movie does show)and I don't know if the two of them ever ran into each other again(most unlikely,since Lefroy went home to Ireland and Jane never left England)but I do know that the attempted elopement in the film was more Lydia Bennet than Jane Austen.

Despite all of that,Becoming Jane is an entertaining look at the romantic legend of Jane Austen,the key word here being "legend". For die hard Austenites,it is best to keep that thought in mind. As for those wholly unfamiliar with the real story,my advice is to watch Miss Austen Regrets,which was shown recently as part of PBS' Complete Jane Austen series,for a more authentic take on Austen's later life and to also check out a couple of good biographies as well(a recommended short one is Carol Shields' Penguin Lives bio and a nice lengthy one would be Claire Tomalin's). In the meanwhile,let us look at some of the lessons that Becoming Jane does teach us:

10) Piano playing in the early morning hours is not considered the best way to wake up your family on a Sunday morning.

9) Of what value is an introduction,when you can not even remember the lady's name afterwards?:

8) A good book recommendation can come from the most unlikely and seemingly unlikable sources:

7) Flirting is a woman's trade that is best to keep practice in.

6) Independent thought is not the proper response to an offer of marriage:

5) To have a wife with a literary reputation is considered a scandal.

4) It is just as hard to dispose of yourself with affection as it is without it:

3) Affection in marriage is desirable but money is absolutely indispensable,particularly if you don't want to end up having to dig your own potatoes!

2)Yes,there are other women in Hampshire and yet,the proposals keep on coming!:

1) When it comes to fortune, a young woman may depend on herself:

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