Wednesday, August 8, 2007



Jane Austen (1775 – 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Nothanger Abbey and Persuasion. Her social commentary and masterful use of both free indirect speech and irony eventually made her one of the most influential and honoured novelists in English literature. Her novels were all written and set around the Regency Era (the years between 1795 and 1830, a time characterised by distinctive fashions, politics and culture.) Her work dealt with a limited social circle in society—that of the provincial gentry and the upper classes.

As England's first truly important female novelist, Jane Austen had difficulty in establishing a reputation for herself, despite the fact that she counted the Prince Regent among her admirers of the time. Adhering to a common contemporary practice for female authors, Austen published her novels anonymously; this kept her out of leading literary circles.

Anne Hathaway: 20-year old Jane Austen
Julie Walter: her mother Cassandra
James Cromwell: her father a country pastor
James McAvoy: Tom Lefroy a penniless student of law
Ian Richardson: Tom’s rich uncle Judge Langlois
Maggie Smith: wealthy noblewoman Lady Gresham
Laurence Fox: Mr. Wisley, Lady Gresham’s ward and heir

It seems to me that if you go to all the trouble of making a movie with big production values the least you can do is make sure the dialog can be heard. Such is not the case as often what is being said is masked by some noise or simply muttered rather than spoken out loud.

The story is one we’ve seen before so it lacks originality. What it has instead is a plethora of characters that serve only to muddle the situation: there’s Cassandra, Jane’s sister (not to be confused of course with Cassandra, Jane’s mother who has the same name) and her betrothed (whatever his name is) and some countess from France who keeps popping up for some reason and Tom’s friend who appears from time to time and on it goes.

Perhaps those taken with the author will find it worthwhile trying to sort this all out. For the rest of us it is simply too much of an effort.

for brief nudity and mild language.

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