Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Review: Miss Austen Regrets

I had heard about this a while ago, but I didn't watch it until yesterday. I know only a little bit about Jane Austen's life, and I hadn't really seen a biopic of Jane Austen (excepting a couple of scenes from Becoming Jane), so this would be the first movie about Jane Austen that I have seen all the way through.

Miss Austen Regrets chronicles the later life of Jane Austen and her relationship with her niece, Fanny Austen-Knight. Jane councils Fanny on her choice of husband while Fanny tries to get the romantic side of Jane out.

There are a couple of actors/actresses that you may recognize in Miss Austen Regrets. Olivia Williams (Jane Austen) was seen in Emma (1997) as Jane Fairfax. Hugh Bonneville (Rev. Brook Bridges) was seen in Daniel Deronda as Mr. Grandcourt and also in Downton Abbey as Robert Crawley, Lord of Grantham. Phyllida Law (Mrs. Austen) was also seen in Emma (1996) as Mrs. Bates and is also known as the mother of actresses Emma Thompson and Sophie Thompson. Greta Scacchi (Cassandra Austen) was seen in Emma (1996) as Mrs. Weston.

Jane at an evening with her friends. She seemed to have
been holding a glass of wine through at least half of the movie.
I really didn't like the way Jane Austen was portrayed in here. I know only a little about Jane Austen's life (I haven't actually read the letters that she has written to her sister, Cassandra, or to Fanny), but I never pictured her as someone who indulged too much in wine, flirted with nearly any man in her path, or was constantly in ill-humor. It seemed that some of the characteristics that she had in this movie were what she condemned in her novels: the real Jane Austen ridiculed the flirtatious behaviors of Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and of Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey and would have most likely have looked down upon women walking around at night, drinking wine, and looking into windows from bushes outside. Her sour attitude in here could almost resemble Mary Bennet's in Pride and Prejudice. The screenplay writers and producers were probably trying to make her appear more human, but there are other ways of doing that and keeping her in "sync" with what she wrote and believed. I'm not convinced in this portrayal of Jane Austen

The whole story focused more on Jane's relationship with Fanny, her niece, rather than Cassandra, her sister. I would have liked to see more of Cassandra in this movie; she was in there for a couple of scenes, but not nearly as many as she should have. I didn't like how the Jane/Fanny relationship was portrayed: it seemed like they were reduced to a couple of giggling girls: I really couldn't take either one of them seriously after a while, especially Fanny. Fanny seemed overly romantic and emotional where it got to the point that it was just irritating.
Jane (foreground) with Fanny and Cassandra in the background.

The scenery was nice. The outdoor scenes look lovely, and the indoor scenes in the houses were nice too. There was one scene that had a blue overtone when Jane Austen was running through London: I didn't like that they had the blue overtone. But Miss Austen Regrets does afford some nice views of the English countryside.

Fanny and Jane traveling. Here Jane is wearing the turban
that she wears for a good portion of the movie.
I liked the costumes. I noticed that Jane had more bold colors than Fanny, who wore mostly white and lighter colors. I think that in the Regency Era, older women wore more bolder colors, while younger women wore lighter colors. Jane's gowns were very nice. Her dresses consisted mostly of jumpers with gauze sleeves. I wasn't particularly fond of a turban (I think it was a turban) that Jane wore for a lot of the movie. Overall, this movie could give many costumers an idea of what style of Regency dresses they would like to make.

I'll admit the costume and scenery were nice, and the music was quite tolerable enough (though it really didn't stick with me long enough), but I am not convince with this portrayal of Jane Austen. If seemed as if she had the bad qualities of her characters that she created. If a movie can't get the main character right, it doesn't have a good chance of succeeding.

Miss Austen Regrets is available with the DVD version of Sense and Sensibility (2008). It runs for 90 minutes.


  1. Thanks for the heads up. :) Have you read "Just Jane" by Nancy Moser? That was a good book. :) My reviw is here: http://austenitis.blogspot.com/2011/01/just-jane.html

    And I know Melody reviewed it first...

  2. I am so glad you disliked this movie! ;-) I have heard bad reports of it from my oldest sister, and she says Jane Austen never would have acted the way she did in that movie. That makes me mad. >.< And a turban?!?! I can tell from the few of her letters I've read that she was not a person to be constantly in ill-humour. ;-) Someone needs to make a good movie about Jane Austen; they really do!!

    Just Jane, as Charity mentioned, was a faithful tale of Jane's life. The style of writing rather annoyed me though, and there were mistakes like spelling it "Farras" instead of "Farrars", and I thought that shouldn't have got so far...(it was in there more than once, too.) I preferred 'The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen' by Syrie James...it seemed to me that the author knew Jane Austen a lot better. There were still some things I didn't like (and the main story is actually fiction, but it has a 'what's fact and what's fiction' in the back), but as it was pretty good. ;) (I reviewed that one, too.

    This is random, but in one of your comments a long time ago, you said you took a Northanger Abbey quiz. Where did you find it, do you rememeber?

    I will be sending you an email soon. =)

  3. This is still me, Elegance of Fashion. Blogger won't allow me to comment as me for some reason. Hopefully this will get resolved soon.

    Charity U,
    I haven't read it. Thanks for the reccommendation! :-)

    Thanks for the reccommendation! I don't remember where it was that I took the Northanger Abbey quiz. I think I googled "which character from Northanger Abbey are you" or something along those lines. But I don't remember what website it was. I'm sorry.

    -- Elegance of Fashion

  4. I told myself I wasn't going to be controversial with my shiny new blog. :D But I have to admit that I like Miss Austen Regrets. I think sometimes in Austenworld, Austen can be idealized into a perfect demigoddess who is always serenely watching over everyone. Although they went a bit overboard with the drinking and flirting, I did like that she was humanized.

  5. Mimic of Modes,
    Thank you for your comment! I wouldn't call your comment controversial. I like it when people give their opinions. :-)

    -Elegance of Fashion
    (Blogger is still not letting me comment as me for some reason.)

  6. Everybody has faults and I am quite sure Jane Austen wasn't perfect, but it annoys me that they choose such imperfections as misrepresent her. ;-)


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