Becoming Jane (2007)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Becoming Jane (2007)
Rated PG. Drama, Romance, Biography/Period Film

Description (from the film case): It’s the untold romance that inspired the novels of one of the world’s most celebrated authors. When the dashing Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), a reckless and penniless lawyer-to-be, enters Jane’s [Anne Hathaway] life, he offends the emerging writer’s sense and sensibility. Soon their clashing egos set off sparks that ignite a passionate romance and fuel Jane’s dream of doing the unthinkable–marrying for love.

My thoughts: The beautiful film that first made me a fan of Hathaway. I’m sure my already being an Austen enthusiast and a writer myself helped, but Hathaway is truly wonderful in this role, regardless. And McAvoy, a versatile actor, does a heart-wrenching job as Lefroy. The ending is inevitable, and so excellently done.

Yes, Jane, you can live by your pen.

My corresponding reading: Austen’s six classic novels, of course, and Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin.

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Les Misérables (2012)

Film reviews are subjective. I tend to rate films not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Les Misérables (2012)
Rated PG-13. Drama, Musical, Romance, War/Epic
3 Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress

Description (from the film case): Set against the backdrop of 19th Century France, Les Misérables tells the story of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean [Hugh Jackman], hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert [Russell Crowe], after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s [Anne Hathaway] young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

My thoughts: “Fight. Dream. Hope. Love.” Yes, exactly–ditto to what the film’s tagline says.

Les Misérables is a wonderful achievement and the film that solidified Hathaway’s spot on my favorite actresses list. When she, an agonized Fantine, sings “I Dreamed a Dream,” oh, it isn’t just the way she sings it but how she is right afterward: drained, silent, blank, as if she hasn’t (or has?) just wailed her whole tortured soul out to a world that can’t hear her. There’s pretty much no way she wouldn’t have won an Oscar for that role. And Jackman is absolutely amazing as Valjean, both in his fierce moments and in his quiet ones. I hear tell Jackman even fasted from water to give wandering, weary Valjean’s skin its wasted look toward the beginning of the film. (Nope, it isn’t just a film makeup job making Valjean look like that.)

This is the only movie I’ve ever gone out to see as soon as it released, and if I could’ve stood up to sing along during “Red and Black” and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” in the theater, I would have. (But, alas, the people sitting behind me might have had something to say about that, and I didn’t know the words to the songs yet, anyway.) The film also compelled me to finally get around to reading Victor Hugo’s classic novel. I’ve not finished it yet, as it’s an unabridged version and I’m reading it in between other books, but I’m instantly right “there” every time I pick it up, and I already suspect it will end up on my list of all-time favorite reads.

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Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

biography

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Jane Austen A LifeJane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Brava to the biographer–no doubt this was a challenging account to put together, especially in light of so many of Jane Austen’s letters being destroyed. As an Austen fan, I could have read on for a few more chapters. What was it like for her to have to wait so long to see her novels published, let alone the ones that weren’t published until after she died? You really have to believe in your work…

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I found a Signet Classics copy of Pride and Prejudice in my middle school’s library when I was thirteen years old. I’ve been hooked on Austen ever since. I’ve a sneaky suspicion that the 1995 BBC television miniseries of P & P with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth will always be my favorite onscreen version of the novel. Here are the editions of Austen’s novels I’ve read. Click on the images.

Pride and Prejudice Sense and Sensibility Emma Persuasion  Mansfield Park (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) Northanger Abbey

Take a look at Becoming Jane, a film on Austen’s writing and romance.