Cinematical readers in Britain can ignore all of this, since the movie has already been released there, but we in the States have now received a trailer for Becoming Jane, the new Anne Hathaway-starring romance that takes a brief, documented flirtation between novelist Jane Austen and an Irish gentleman (James McAvoy) and blows it up into the romance to end all romances. The problems that have already been noted by others -- that Hathaway couldn't quite crack the English accent, that the film straddles a convenient line of 'fiction based on truth,' and so on -- are all evident in this trailer. It seems like we're going to be looking at an 18th century version of The Princess Diaries, as opposed to any attempt to actually capture what made the biographical Jane Austen tick.
Surely the makers of this film don't actually have an image of Austen as full of unbridled passions and gusto, do they? The biggest complaint about her work for two centuries -- even noted by contemporaries like Charlotte Bronte, who famously accused Austen of "Chinese fidelity" -- is that her work is all about proper form and codes of conduct, not about crashing through those things. But any criticism of a 'fictional bio' won't stick, obviously. Just look at the recent Diane Arbus fantasy, Fur, which would have been unrecognizable as having anything to do with Arbus if not for the use of the famous name. Anyway -- you'll be able to judge for yourself when Becoming Jane hits theaters in this country on August 3.