Okay, I cheated. I whole-heatedly admit it. But I just cannot stand an unhappy ending to a movie I was so thoroughly enjoying. Sometimes my DVDs, they just don't seem to behave like other peoples. Take my Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Did you know my copy plays through the shoot out with the bandits and then mysteriously stops before the heroes head into town? According to my DVD (and my imagination), Butch and the Kid leave Bolivia and go home to live long, natural lives.
It's the same with my copy of Becoming Jane. Tom asks Jane to elope, she meets him downstairs, and they run away, hand in hand to the perfect life together, credits roll by.
Yes, I know I'm cheating but it is the only way for me to enjoy such a picture perfect movie which has such phenomenal portrayals when it doesn't end with a happily ever after.
Anne Hatheway plays Jane Austin, a young woman whose marriage prospects are poor. On the verge of accepting a proposal of convenience and not affection, she meets Tom Lefroy, played by James McAvoy.
Tom Lefroy loves the city and wild life. Where there is drinking under the table, the company of women of ill refute or a boxing match where he is not the last man standing. Tom likes the excitement of the city life. He is unprepared, then when on a mandated country visit, he meets Jane Austin -- strong willed, educated, and a novelist.
It's a match made in heaven, one, according to my DVD, destined for greatness where hero and heroine work out their differences and spend the rest of their lives being happy.
The characters, both primary and secondary, carried this moving film by involving the audience in their experiences. With their joy, their sorrow, their desire, and heartbreak coming through the screen to the viewer.
My only objection to the production would be the many Pride and Prejudice references: the overbearing aunt of the suitor pulling Jane aside; the mother fighting for a marriage of fortune rather than affection. I want to say they seemed placed whereas writers know about personal events working their way into our own fictional worlds. It would be natural then for Jane Austen to pull events from her real life into her greatest work.
As to McAvoy's performance, from falling asleep during the first reading, to watching the carriage pull away with his one true love forever lost to him (yes I peaked) -- he is and always will be, whoever he dares to portray.