Friday, June 5, 2009

Put the Bottle Down, Jane!

Jane Austen is many things to many people, but a lush is generally not how she is portrayed on screen. It was a bit of a surprise, therefore, to see Jane knocking back the wine in Miss Austen Regrets (paired with Sense & Sensibility by the BBC for sale in the US).

In this story, based on some of Austen's surviving correspondence, Jane is called upon by her niece Fanny to help choose a suitable husband. Fanny already has a young man in mind for the job, and she wants her Aunt Jane's advice and approval. In the course of this chain of events, we also find out about Jane's own brushes with matrimony, and why she chose an unmarried life as a writer over a life as a wife and mother.

This version of Jane comes off as a wisecracking woman who is fond of wine. Wineglass in hand, she always has a snappy comeback for every situation. Not to say that this isn't a more realistic portrayal of her than the somewhat sappy, reserved Austen we saw in "Becoming Jane," but it was still somewhat unexpected.

Although, at nearly 40, this Jane has given up on romance in favor of creating perfect men in her fiction, she is still flirting away with every man in sight and becomes rather put out when they turn their attentions to younger, more attractive women. So I guess we can gain from this that the "real" Austen was a complex, somewhat conflicted character. Aside from Fanny, the rest of the Austen family is shown in an unpleasant light. Jane's mother is upset that Jane, 20 years previously, turned down a marriage proposal to a wealthy man that would have ensured the family's financial security. Her two brothers are financial failures, with one brother declaring bankruptcy and the other under threat of losing half his property, including the cottage where his mother and two unmarried sisters live. Jane's closest relative, her sister Cassandra, is a household drudge who feels guilty for convincing Jane not to accept the marriage proposals she had in her youth, due to wanting to keep Jane with her at home.

Actually, not a lot really happens in the story, other than showing the final few years of Austen's life. The costumes and scenery were lovely, and it was a nice surprise to see Adrian Edmonson (Vyvyan that was) as one of Jane's brothers. It's always such a shock to see him without an orange mohawk . . .

Final Verdict for Miss Austen Regrets: Three Gherkins, for being an interesting look at the life of a beloved author

2 comments:

The Prodigal Tourist said...

We weren't that crazy about that one. Not much happens is a bit of an understatement. And she seemed to let everyone run her life, didn't she, the opposite of her heroines.

Lisanne624 said...

Yes, at least Jane had an outlet for her frustrations by letting her characters get on with their lives! Poor Cassandra on the other hand . . .

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