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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Mother Talk: Becoming Jane

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a writer in possession of a blog, must be in want of good material (I know, I know, it's the most obvious of openings, but I'm posting my review early so hopefully I've beaten everyone else to the punch). Tonight, Josh and I had a date night...

Wait, can I take a side trip for a moment? I used to work at a cafe and we had a customer who would hang out at the bar talking to us while I made coffee. One day, we were talking about someone we both knew and the man exclaimed: "that old queen? He has cobwebs growing between his legs from the last time he was fucked!" Whenever I think of myself as a dating being, I imagine the imaginary cobwebs that are growing over whatever dating organs exist (with the exception of ones that are used for procreation since we certainly get enough tries at that...). I ordered crazy non-Melissa-like sushi tonight just because I had no idea when we'd ever go back out for sushi. We're such sit in bed and read types of people.

Okay, back to the movie.

Becoming Jane is fiction. Fiction, fiction, fiction, and if I didn't know this for some reason--say I wasn't the owner of an English graduate degree--I would have probably picked it up either from every movie review that has mentioned this or at least from the Jane fanatics who were muttering around us in the theater (Wisley? Wisley? Well, in my world, Mr. Wisley is known as Harris Bigg-Wither. Wisley? Why the hell did they have to change the name Bigg-Wither?). So it's fiction. And it's a period piece. And if you are a lover of fiction and period pieces, as I'm guessing many of us are by the fact that our theater was packed on a Wednesday night, you may enjoy Becoming Jane quite a bit.

Despite One Smart Mama's decidedly Austenian slant, I am not a complete Janeophile. I like her books, I've read her books, I've taught her books. But I don't need pure Jane. Unlike my fellow theater-goers, I wasn't really bothered that Harris Bigg-Wither morphed into a fictional character named Mr. Wisley who bore a striking resemblance to Lurch (and I understood why the writers didn't feel they could have a character named Bigg-Wither. Go ahead. Say it aloud for a moment. Consider it. See, now you get it). It didn't really bother me that Lefroy--who was a real person--was reimagined into this enormous love interest. I barely raised an eyebrow over the fact that Jane Austen's brother George was not only cast as deaf, but used ASL even though BSL is used in England (not to mention that Jane died in 1817, the year formal sign language was introduced to America by Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet--not to be picky or anything). Really, I was able to overlook all of these things because they weren't important to the core of the story. Which is a woman not willing to compromise and marry even if it is expected of her.

I think the best pieces come from seeing a slice of society--the balls and the formalities. I'm a big whore for etiquette and I love seeing the pomp and circumstance that used to exist and inform relationships. The story, fiction or not, still maintains a core fact of Jane Austen's life--she gave up marriage to "live by the pen." Watching the film made me truly appreciate the difficulties embedded in this choice, the repercussions of this monumental decision--what it meant for her parents, what it meant for her later in life. What she gave up for whatever she gained.

Watch the film for the amazing acting by Anne Hathaway (not to mention the fact that the woman is freakin' hot), for the glimpse into society during this time period, and for the recurrent line dances. It's a sweet film. And you can't help but love Jane when she says, "My characters shall have, after a little trouble, all that they desire." It makes you wish, as you slip your feet in the stirrups yet again, that we could all have the promise of a Jane Austen happy ending.

This is also an opportunity, while we're on the subject of Jane, to make a call for questions for One Smart Mama. All info about question submissions on the sidebar...


LJ said...

My brother's fiancee - totally could be her sister. I love Anne Hathaway.

Anonymous said...

Love Jane! Hope I'll love the film :)