Becoming Jane picture image

Becoming Jane

Groans, just so many groans on this movie. When I first saw Becoming Jane  I didn’t have any strong opinions of it in fact I hardly remember it aside from it being about Jane Austen and her unrequited love. Apparently this movie exists to showcase where Jane Austen got her inspiration from but she isn’t Frida Kahlo, her movie narrative is much like her book sans the interest.

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy Becoming Jane picture image

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy

This movie is shot in  typical lovely manner. It pretty in the strict conventional way a period drama is shot especially for this time period. It’s pretty and boring. It does tries it’s hand interesting shots and edits which just look overindulgent. It looks as though a young director is trying to be artsy but in fact the director, Julien Jarrold, is quite experienced as a director.

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy Becoming Jane picture image

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy

Then there is the love story. Again it follows the pretty people who are pretty and passionate. Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy start off in typically Disney-esque snarky relationship turned forbidden love. Again the idea is in love is forbidden than an audience HAS to care the lovers. Alas no. There is no realy pivot from animosity to love. The just keep bumping into other Tom makes criticisms about Jane’s writings, telling her she needs experience.

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy Becoming Jane picture image

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy

Speaking on the scene where the first meet, Jane is reading something she wrote at her sister’s engagement and Lefroy is there. After she is done, Jane overhears him criticizing it  and she preceded to run upstair and tears it up and in the very next time they meet she is defending its worth and how ladies should write because they have feelings. It just seems odd that she is at one time vulnerable to a vague criticism of a guy she doesn’t know and then is all girl power. It’s confusing on her character since she mostly about female empowerment as she won’t marry for position. Go her? Did she even try to get to know the rich guy?   I guess she needed to feel passion that started with a guy saying she sucked at writing? Even though that is not what he said.  Or was it all his sexual talks with her through vague English politeness?             

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen Becoming Jane picture image

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen

    

What is really unfortunate is the casting. Anne Hathaway isn’t convincing. Aside from the  English accent, which did sound like an affectation, she didn’t give Jane anything that was interesting as a character. What was Jane Austen’s personality? Smart? Nice? Independent?  Those traits are presence in the film and darn if they aren’t in the dialogue of the movie to convey it, so no acting required.   

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy Becoming Jane picture image

Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen & James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy

If you want to ogle James McAvoy for a long two hours then this is a movie for you. If you want a pretty movie with a less than compelling romantic narrative, again a movie for you. However if you want a good romantic movie set in the regency period that watch any other movie that is based on a Jane Austen book.  

Penelope picture image

Penelope

There is a lot of films that are modern takes on Fairy Tale or more precisely fairy tales with a modern setting. Placing a Fairy Tale type story is tricky, you have create certain atmosphere to make it believe for the setting but you can’t have the movie take itself that seriously, I.E. it has to know its place and not be a brooding Twilight-shit storm of a mess.
One such movie with a Fairy Tale modern setting is 2008’s Penelope. It’s by accounts a nice movie and by that I mean pleasant but not really super memorable either.

Christina Ricci as Penelope and James McAvoy as Johnny/Max Penelope picture image

Christina Ricci as Penelope and James McAvoy as Johnny/Max

Penelope tells the story of super elite Penelope who due to a family curse has pig nose. This causes her mother to keep her apart from the world and even goes as far to fake her daughter’s death. The only was to break the curse is to have one of their own kind accept her.

So her parents, or really just her mother, Jessica had rich other blue blood young men to win her heart but all are scared off by her nose. One man tell the papers about Penelope and he is dubbed crazies. He and a newspaper gut then you a in debt blue blood named Max to get a picture of Penelope to prove both them right.

However Max and Penelope bond and when she reveal herself to Max she miscontrue him not wanting to marry her to break the curse for him finding her ugly instead of him being unable to break it as he not really Max the rich blood blue but just Johnny some guy.

So Penelope leaves home and makes some friends. But the she sells her own picture to the news guy. The city then falls in love with Penelope and the first blue blood then is made to marry Penelope in order for people to like him and to break Penelope’s curse even though he can’s stand her cursed face. Penelope can’t go through with it and decide she likes herself curse and all which breaks the curse.

Penelope then becomes a teacher and a popular halloween costume. She then learns the Max/Johnny couldn’t undo the curse but it’s ok because they are in loves.

Christina Ricci as Penelope Penelope picture image

Christina Ricci as Penelope

Ahh, the beautiful ugly, I know you well. Jolie Laide is a French expression that means the psychical flaws are embraced as a part of the person’s overall beauty. Quasimodo, The Phantom, The man who laughs and the Beast fall into this concept but to a more extreme degree.
However all these are dudes, Penelope is a lady with the ugly trait and she has to embrace it to be herself. It’s a weird moral, when she loves herself it makes her look normal despite the point that she wasn’t really all that ugly in the first place. It’s a weird little moral that is really mixed up in its scope. Love yourself and then you’re normal? I don’t it feel like it was sincere in its sentiment but presented badly. Though I do like that it a female who is the Jolie-Laide even if her deformity is still adorable.

Christina Ricci as Penelope and James McAvoy as Johnny/Max Penelope picture image

Christina Ricci as Penelope and James McAvoy as Johnny/Max

I give this movie credit, it explains the fairy tale elements well while mixing it into the modern world. Like why can’t Penelope get a nose job? Because some weird reason that it lodged into brain and will kill her. Instead of being a Princess locked in a tower, she’s a blue blood socialist from an old family kept away from the world.

There is some stuff I don’t think work out that super well, like Penelope in real world and how well she deal with it and makes friend. But it could have been that part wasn’t as interesting as it should have been.

Christina Ricci as Penelope Penelope picture image

Christina Ricci as Penelope

There nothing wrong with this movie as a whole but nothing about really stands out. It’s cute but there anything really interesting? No. It should have been, the characters are all likable in their ways and it acted well but it just alright.

Perhaps if the technical were more stylish it would have stood out. As they were they were just okay. I remember Penelope’s nose and like two costumes but that is it. I give the movie had like a kid like sense of style like clothing from Anthropologie. It has the calculated DIY feeling but is really commercial and basic but trying to be cutesy. I didn’t hate it, I like stuff from Anthropologie, I can’t afford it but I like it but doesn’t make for a good style in a movie with nothing else really going on save for a pig nose and Peter Dinklage in an eyepatch.

 Christina Ricci as PenelopePenelope picture image

Christina Ricci as Penelope

I want to say Penelope is charming but it’s clunky in its storytelling, delivery and style. Really it’s just lukewarm.

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