Idol Chatter

becomingjane_idol.jpgSometimes I leave a movie theater and feel an overwhelming desire to write an actor, actress, or even the writer a love letter of sorts. It doesn’t happen often–I’m not one who cares much for celebrity. But I felt this after seeing “Waitress” earlier this summer: I wanted to thank Keri Russell for playing the part of Jenna, the reluctantly pregnant “pie genius,” with such dead pan humor, and the fact that she made me laugh harder than I can remember in years. Each time I saw the film, Russell managed to help me walk out of the theater with a sense that the world was a miraculous place. Somehow I believed she might even care to know this.
Well, after “Becoming Jane” I once again wanted so badly to write a letter. “Becoming Jane” is the Miss Austen version of “Shakespeare in Love.” If only she could receive my thanks from the grave, I’d tell her how extraordinary it is that her stories have left such a profound and lasting mark on so many of us, and how I wanted so badly to believe that at least part of “Becoming Jane” was true–that even though she never married, she did truly meet her Mr. Darcy once, even if she had to give him up.

“Becoming Jane” as a film achieves the relatively impossible: It feeds the astounding hunger for all things Jane Austen yet without re-hashing the already familiar. The story, of the young, aspiring novelist Jane who meets and falls madly in love with the witty and wild Tom LeFroy, is wonderful, fresh, suspenseful, yet so sad. Watching this movie is like getting to read a newly discovered Jane Austen novel, but one with a tragic twist.
Lately it seems that all the “Pride & Prejudice” remake novels (“Me & Mr. Darcy,” “Darcy’s Story,” among others) are so derivative not only of Austen’s masterpiece, but of Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” such that they are doubly disappointing and therefore dissatisfying.
Fear not with “Becoming Jane”–it is a movie to satisfy even the most ardent of fans. But bring your tissues. I sat sobbing until the very last credit rolled, wishing I could somehow convey to the estimable Miss Austen my hope that the amount of romance and love she bequeathed us through her legacy she somehow lived herself, if only briefly, through this beautiful brush with love.

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