Becoming Jane
Available on Pluto TV, iTunes
Though she died a spinster, some academics have long suspected that there was more to writer Jane Austen's love life than we knew. Her books -- witty, epic and, yes, romantic -- so fully distilled the deliberations of men and women longing for connection but inhibited by their circumstances, it seemed impossible to think she'd never fallen in love herself. Yet on paper -- or, rather, in biographies -- it seems she hadn't. But what if she had? What if, despite Elizabeth and Emma, the author's most passionate female character turns out to be herself? Though we won't ever know for sure if Austen had loved deeply and lost, "Becoming Jane" imagines it oh-so-deliciously possible. Based on a 2003 book by Jon Spence, the film depicts Austen as a fiery, strong-willed 20-year-old who meets Tom Lefroy (cannily captured by James McAvoy), a rakish Irish barrister, and instantly recognizes him as her meant-to-be. (In real life, many Austen historians have largely described their connection as a simple flirtation, if that. He did, however, name one of his children Jane.) Back in the late 1700s, however, women married for stability. Though she could write heroines who boldly flouted the conventions of their time -- who could, in essence, run off with whomever pleases their heart with no regard for practicality -- she wasn't always so daring. And society wasn't always so forgiving.
Starring Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, James Cromwell
Director Julian Jarrold