Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
United Kingdom, 2007. HanWay Films, UK Film Council, Bórd Scannán na hÉireann, Ecosse Films, Blueprint Pictures, Scion Films, Octagon Films, 2 Entertain, BBC Films, Irish Film Industry, National Lottery through UK Film Council, Irish Film Board. Screenplay by Kevin Hood, Sarah Williams, based on the letters of Jane Austen. Cinematography by Eigil Bryld. Produced by Robert Bernstein, Graham Broadbent, Douglas Rae. Music by Adrian Johnston. Production Design by Eve Stewart. Costume Design by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh. Film Editing by Emma E. Hickox.
Passable if unnecessary examination of the events that led to Jane Austen’s abandoning any hopes of marriage and living by her writing. Anne Hathaway plays the young authoress, daughter of a clergyman (James Cromwell) whose impoverished situation would be helped quite a bit by her marrying well.
She is proposed to by a handsome and wealthy gentleman, but as she does not love him, the offer is not acceptable to her; what she prefers is the passionate friendship she shares with young lawyer James McAvoy, but he hasn’t a penny to his name and can’t marry.
The sets and costumes are as lovely as any good period piece ever was, but the joyful wit and precarious doom that make Austen’s novels so entertaining are nowhere to be found here. While it’s interesting to see where elements of her story came from, the film offers no deep emotional well of its own.
Not helping the matter is an insipid performance by Hathaway, who has done a terrific job of taking on the accent and the poise but has little substance. McAvoy is livelier, but he’s lost in a bland character.