Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miss Austen Regrets

I wasn't sure what I was going to make of Miss Austen Regrets, which has just been broadcast in the UK, having been disappointed by biopics of Austen's life in the past, but Miss Austen Regrets was a film to savour.

Olivia Williams was brilliant as Jane Austen, portraying her as an intelligent, witty woman with a clear view on her world, a portrayal which owed as much to the scriptwriter, Gwyneth Hughes, as the actress, of course. Together they brought a realistic version of Austen to life.

According to The Times, "Hughes insists that hers rather than the soft-focus, romantic heroine imagined by her readers is the truer portrait".

I think that most of Austen's readers can tell from her books that there wasn't anything soft focus about her. Some of her wit is savage, all of it is acute. No one escapes, not clergymen nor handsome young men nor elderly women nor the rich and titled. Everyone falls under her brilliant, satirical spotlight.

“To this day, it’s difficult for the cleverest girl in the room to pull a boyfriend and I think that explains Jane’s real problem: she was just too clever and too challenging," says Hughes.
I've always thought that this portait of her displays this idea perfectly. I can just imagine her saying, "Bored now." Which begs the question, how do you entertain the cleverest woman in the room?

Perhaps the only way to do it is to hand her a pen and a piece of paper.

Amanda Grange


Jane Odiwe said...

I think it was a brave attempt but at times I thought Jane came across as a rather bitter person. We all have our own ideas about what she was like but I would have liked to have seen a little more humour.
To use the letters was a good idea but I think too much reliance on them shows only a narrow aspect of her character. I wish someone would make a programme or drama about celebrating her life and work, with the emphasis on her wonderful books!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this programme: it may not have been a flawless portrayal of Jane(we will never really know)but at least she was human - and intelligent!

Anonymous said...

I've watched about half of this so far via bbc iplayer - should be able to watch the rest tonight..Anyway so far - Hugh Bonniville - he just gets better every time I see him in something. Her neice Fanny - really irritating!

Loved the quote "The only way to get a man like Darcy is to create him in fiction" (or something like that!!)


Anonymous said...

Jane said...

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think any fleeting bitterness was understandable, given that one brother's financial support was threatened, the other went bankrupt, yet Jane's wish to earn money from her books was considered undesirable.
I too thought Hugh Bonneville superb. My husband watched it with me and found the programme moving. He also appreciated the absence of a deathbed scene and funeral!