I went to a special advanced screening of Becoming Jane tonight, the bio-pic of Jane Austen which opens in theatres next Friday.
The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen is a feisty 20-year-old and emerging writer who already sees a world beyond class and commerce, beyond pride and prejudice, and dreams of doing what was then nearly unthinkable - marrying for love. Naturally, her parents are searching for a wealthy, well-appointed husband to assure their daughter's future social standing. They are eyeing Mr. Wisley, nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham, as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy, sparks soon fly along with the sharp repartee. His intellect and arrogance raise her ire - then knock her head over heels. Now, the couple, whose flirtation flies in the face of the sense and sensibility of the age, is faced with a terrible dilemma. If they attempt to marry, they will risk everything that matters - family, friends and fortune.
It was satisfying and enjoyable in every way save for the fact that I was a bit unconvinced about Tom Lefroy's turn from arrogant cad to desperate lover. Despite this minor flaw, I was touched by how romantic and bittersweet was the ending and was moved to tears several times near the end.
Anne Hathaway does a credible English accent and I was tickled to see Julie Walters play Mrs. Austen since I know her better as Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter films. The writers did a great job of weaving in shades of Pride and Prejudice and I must say that this has got to be one of my favourite movies of the year.