Verbing Jane: a rant.

(if you can have spoilers for a biopic, then there are probably some below)

So last night I went to see the new film about Jane Austen. It's either called Being Jane or Becoming Jane or possibly Boring Jane, I can't remember which (let's just call it VERBing Jane).

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen was a genius. One of the many things that made her a genius, was her ability to weave every single aspect of a story together so closely, that every thread affects every other one (this is why Austen films often fall a little short of the mark - because it's harder to cut stuff out to get it down to 2 hours). VERBing Jane was more a loose tangle of threads. What purpose did the deaf brother play? (yeah, I know she HAD a deaf brother, but she also had three other brothers that weren't in the movie.)

(whoever wrote this film was not a genius. not by a long shot.)

Did I fall asleep and not notice, but what made Lefroy turn from being a boxing, drinking, whoring lout into a Sensitive New Age Guy? I was truly shocked when Mr Insulting and Falling Asleep When Jane Reads Her Work suddenly pushed poor Jane into a bush and declared "I am yours". (and don't tell me it was 'love', because i didn't see him fall in love with her. Sometimes, baby, love just ain't enough.)

And was it just me, or did the film seem to be saying she only wrote P&P? Where were the rest of 'em? I know P&P is the most famous, but all the little nudge-nudge-wink-wink references to it in the film were really grating. Particularly since I couldn't see any similarities between Lefroy and Darcy (apart from the fact that Jane didn't like him very much at first). If he's like any Austen character, it would be Mr Crawford from Mansfield Park. Or even Mr Wickham (the flirting and then the sudden engagement to someone else and then leaving that person to elope?). He showed none of the nobility and responsibility that Darcy had.

Jane Austen had a boring life. She had one marriage proposal which she accepted then refused the next day (I wonder why they changed his name from to Bigg-Wither to Wisley?). She also had a brief 'mutual flirtation' with a young man called Lefroy, which didn't go anywhere.

The thing that makes Jane Austen astonishing and wonderful is her writing. To make a film about her rather uneventful life just feels like a mockery. To frame her life as somehow tragic because she didn't get her man is even more so.

If you want Austen, read Austen. Or watch any of the wonderful screen adaptations.