For a split second, Becoming Jane looks like it might have some cinematic intelligence not too much but more than youd expect from the director of Kinky Boots. As we note random shots of the home of Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway), we think that this might be a stylish cut above the average historical costumer but then, in a fit of writers enthusiasm, Jane starts playing the piano, loudly, and wakes up her family. And the cutesy joke lets you know that this is, indeed, going to play as broadly as youd expect.
The rest of the movie is devoted to the young Austens pre-fame years, specifically the (possibly fictitious) romance with Irish lawyer Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), a sort-of rake who turns the budding writer onto Henry Fielding and supposedly inspires Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. But Lefroys wealthy family refuses to let them wed, and so the movie stutters into "they will wed, then they wont and then they will territory until the "truth comes out.
For a film about the love of someones life, things seem pretty damp and chilly, and though McAvoy is credible for once in his role, the rest of the production is bland, limp and largely passion free. Worse, the filmmakers fancy themselves revisionists and include one or two giggly sexual references designed to show how au courant they are. It doesnt work; a few nudge-winks aside, Becoming Jane is a totally sexless affair, which is something you dont really want in a film about grand passion.
There are still the hiccups of style to set it slightly apart from the competition but in the end, theyre mere distractions from the main event of the same old same old. (Alliance Atlantis)