As a lover of all things Jane Austen and the infinite adaptations made of her works I thought I would recap and review some of my favorites and include my favorite scene from each.
Becoming Jane (2007) starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy
So technically this is not an Austen adaptation but rather a biopic about Jane Austen and her supposed romance with Tom Lefroy. This movie was my first introduction into the world of Jane Austen. I loved this movie with my whole heart growing up which led me to pursue other movies and stories like it. I decided to rewatch the film for this post and found that it did not live up to the hyperbolized remembrance of it I had in my head. I do think a lot of this is because last year I read Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley. This biography was absolutely splendid and one of the most enjoyable books I’ve ever read. Because I had read it though the discrepancies between the biopic and Austen’s real life were glaring. Of course, this is bound to happen with most biopics but as far as Austen-esque films go it fell a couple notches.
Pros: top tier score, JAMES MCAVOY, GREAT dancing scene
Cons: not all that accurate, Anne Hathaways accent is cringe
Best Scene: This dancing scene where Tom and Jane finally realize their feelings for each other is *eye fucking* at it’s finest.
Pride and Prejudice (2005) starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden
This movie is the pinnacle of the recent Jane Austen adaptations. Director Joe Wright’s ability to capture the nuances and essence of the novel is superb. One of the best ways he does this is with the Bennet family. Jane Austen loves an annoying yet lovable character and Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal of Mrs. Bennet is superb.
The shots in this movie are also ridiculous. (in a good way) The film feels intensely intimate yet not intrusive. Viewers become absorbed in the lives of the Bennet’s. The family is strange and loud and lacking in decorum but they mean well. Every time I watch this movie I cry with the sheer beauty of it.
Pros: This movie is simply beautiful, the score is legendary
Cons: You’ll become obsessed
Best Scene: The best scenes in this movie would ruin the beauty of the film if you haven’t seen it yet so here is the amazing trailer.
Sense and Sensibility (1995) starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet
I watched this film specifically for this post because I knew it was high up on a lot of Jane Austen aficionado’s list. The story follows Elinor and Marianne Dashwood and their romantic pursuits. It’s a kind heartwarming tale with lovable characters. Also, in researching this movie I discovered that Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay. (As an Emma Thompson stan I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t know this.)
I wouldn’t recommend this as the first Jane Austen adaptation to watch but fans of the genre will definitely like it.
Pros: YOUNG HUGH GRANT, nice calming movie
Cons: I know the end scene where Elinor bursts into tears is considered a classic but damn is it awkward to watch
Best Scene: If you want a reason to watch this movie watch it for young and charming Hugh Grant as Edward.
Bonus: Austenland (2013) starring Keri Russell and J.J. Feild
This movie is not technically an Austen adaptation but it is one of the best Austen-inspired pieces. The plot revolves around Jane, a single thirty-something played by Keri Russell who is obsessed with Jane Austen. She spends her life savings on an Austen experience called “Austenland.” There she is immersed in the world of Jane Austen and all of it’s rules and decorum.
This movie is just plain fun and one of the most hilarious movies. It mocks Jane Austen and period films in a way only someone who truly loves them can. Any period drama fanatic should watch this movie and report back.
Pros: This movie is hilarious and charming
Cons: You’re non-period drama friends won’t “get it”
Best Scene: This scene is just pure comedic gold.