A passionate romance with roguish barrister Tom Lefroy serves as the inspiration for the works of budding novelist Jane Austen.
Realizing we were all jonesing for more atmospheric, swoony Jane Austen movies after the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice came out, some genius decided to make an atmospheric, swoony period movie about Jane Austen’s personal love story with a man named Tom Lefroy. Forget the fact that there’s basically no historical evidence that Jane and Tom had anything more than a mild flirtation. Jane is a bit of an odd duck – she loves to write and hates to abide by societal rules. Tom, meanwhile, is a gambling, womanizing, troublemaker who relies on his mean old uncle for money and befriends Jane’s older brother while at school. When he shows up at the Austen house one day and insults Jane’s writing, the pair enter into a swoon-inducing enemies-to-lovers story that inspires Jane to write some of history’s greatest romances.
Anne Hathaway as Jane
Anne nails Jane’s awkward over-confidence and tbh she has that big-eyed look that I imagine people of the time period had. I can’t imagine a better Jane Austen.
James McAvoy as Tom
I am always on-board with James as the romantic lead. He’s great as Tom, even when he’s infuriating, and is responsible for one of my all-time favorite movie moments when he sneaks up on Jane at the dance. If you don’t already know what I’m talking about, you’ll know it when you see it. SAH-WOON.
Julie Walters as Mrs. Austen
My queen! She’s good in everything, but she’s fantastic in this. She infuses Mrs. Austen with the same warmth and fierceness as Molly Weasley. Her speech about digging her own potatoes makes the hairs on my arms stand up every time.
James Cromwell as Reverend Austen
James’ filmography list is longer than my arm, but will he ever NOT be the farmer from Babe? He’s so charming as Reverend Austen, especially in the moments when he’s so smitten with his wife.
Maggie Smith as Lady Gresham
Lady Gresham is supposed to be Jane’s inspiration for Lady Catherine de Bourg, and who better to play the disapproving spinster who wishes her son would marry *literally* anyone else than Maggie Smith? This exchange…it’s so perfect:
Lady Gresham: “What is she doing?”
Lady Gresham: “…..can anything be done about it?”
Couch-Sharing Capability: Book Club Movie Night
Gather your fellow Austenites! Bonus points for a book club movie night. Bonus bonus points if there’s a general consensus that James McAvoy is smoking hot. It’s fun to watch with fellow Austen nerds and compare all the little details and major moments that are meant to act as Jane’s inspiration for other books.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Sampling the Punch
You definitely don’t need to be drunk for this movie, but socializing at the balls is always a little more fun when you’ve been sneaking sips of the boozy punch. So mix some up and pass it around. Tom Lefroy would approve. Cheers!
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Atmospheric Austen Adaptation
If I had one Hollywood movie-making wish, it would be that Joe Wright would have to make movie versions of all Jane Austen books a la his 2005 P&P adaptation. But if Joe Wright refuses to fulfill my wishes, Becoming Jane feels like a perfect consulation prize. Gorgeous cinematography, an incredible performance by an all-star cast, one of the swooniest dance moments EVER, and a score you’ll be humming to yourself for a week.