Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

16 August 2007

Becoming Bored

I've seen bad remakes before, but this takes the cake. Tonight, I went and saw Julian Jarrold's Jane Austen nonsensical biopic Becoming Jane and... it's terrible.

It's unrelentingly boring, there isn't a single surprising plot twist in the film, and the acting is mostly tepid. The reason for all of this is that while you are watching Becoming Jane you may have the sneaking suspicion that you've seen all of this before. That would be true. You have: if you've watched any of the filmed versions of Pride & Prejudice (the 1940 classic, the very good 2005 remake, or the 1995 BBC miniseries). The writers of Becoming Jane thought it would be funny or clever or something to just invent a little story of how Jane Austen came to become Jane Austen.

In case you're wondering how you write a book like Pride & Prejudice, the answer is that first you must live it. All of this turns out to be incredibly boring. Austen's literary talent would seem to be reduced to simply re-writing events in her own life. I call bullshit.

The acting in this movie is pretty poor as well. Julie Walters gets one scene which she uses to terrific, if predictable, effect. James Cromwell is unremarkable. James McAvoy (so great in last year's The Last King of Scotland) is boring here: earnest and unromantic. Anne Hathaway's casting is a total mystery. Her dialect isn't really good enough to pull off Jane Austen, and the role is so poorly written, that though the actress is plucky, she's working too hard for it to be enjoyable. Maggie Smith is funny in all of her scenes, but she is given very little to do, and (as with all the characters in the movie) I watched Judi Dench play that same part two years ago in a far superior film. I should take time out to make note of Helen McCrory, though, who gives the best performance in the film as the novelist Ann Radcliffe. It's only a cameo, really, but as the camera moved away from McCrory, I knew I had seen the best acting this movie had to offer.

If you love yourself, you will avoid this total nonsense of a film and rent Pride & Prejudice. Becoming Jane feels like nothing better than a community theatre version of a film that's not even two years old.

*Update*

I think I figured out why this movie is so bad! The director's name is Julian Jarrold. 6 letters in Julian. 7 letters in Jarrold. Plus Jane Austen.
That's 6 + 7 + 4 + 6. It's the number 23 again! Actually, I liked Becoming Jane even less.