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Miss Austen Regrets: The Life and Loves of Jane Austen

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Jan 01, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Jane Austen wrote about romance and courtship from personal experience, so it is hard to believe that she never married. Miss Austen Regrets dramatizes the lost loves of Austen's life, including Harris Bigg, whose proposal she accepted and then rejected; Edward Brydges, whom she also refused; the tongue-tied vicar she teased mercilessly; and the young surgeon who arrived on the scene too late to steal her heart.

Product Details

  • Format: NTSC, Color, Closed-captioned
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: PBS Home Video
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0028S7IB6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,358 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Most people might assume "Miss Austen Regrets" will be a story about "Jane Austen and the one great love of her life she regretted letting slip away."

If you've seen "Becoming Jane," another fictional story speculating on some of the intense personal relationships that may have contributed to the creation of Jane Austen's artistry and intellect, you may remember that in that film, a main theme was "the one that got away" (because James McAvoy's character and Austen did not marry because they did not believe they would have enough money).

But in "Miss Austen Regrets," the screenplay writer speculates that Jane Austen may have been far more complex than simply an old-fashioned girl who spent her spinster years pining for the men she declined in her youth.

The casting for this film is spectacular. Olivia Williams, Gretta Scacchi, Pip Torrens, and Hugh Bonneville are all compelling and moving. They play each role as smart and fully concerned characters, with the worries of their era: money, reputation, and duty.

Austen is portrayed as brilliantly witty and imposingly intelligent. Her dialogues are full of double entendres as she flirts consistently, understatedly, yet overtly with every man who attempts to engage her in conversation. The men who try to match wits with her are easily matched or exceeded.

The script is solid. Other critics have complained the script portrays Austen as a wine-loving, flirtatious and "modern" woman that she was not. I didn't watch the film with an intent to find "the truth." I evaluated the story as a story. And as a story, the premise that Austen was feisty, independent minded, and focused on her work and supporting her family is easily plausible.
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The information in this movie is based on Jane Austen's journals, letters to family and friends, as well as family recounts of her life. It is so stated at the beginning of the movie. What some are seeing as "money grabbing" is a complete misinterpretation on their part and/or completely taking that part of her life out of context. She was by no means a money grabber, she was a very talented, intelligent woman who wished to be paid for her work as a man would have been paid for his writing. She was merely fighting for her rights as a woman, way ahead of her time. She was also trying to help out her family with her writings. No doubt she would have been able to had she been paid what she was worth, which is another reason she was fighting for her rights to be paid as well as a man would have been paid. She was also not interested in marrying for money. That was more of her mother's dream than Jane's. One of Jane's love interests was a man who stood to inherit a huge fortune and they were authentically in love with each other. Jane had accepted his proposal, as she would have not accepted the proposal of anyone she had not truly loved. She was not a gold digger. (I think people need to ponder on the times she lived in and the great obstacles women had to deal with in order to survive in those days.) She did not marry at all because she was afraid that marrying would mean the end of her writing as husbands had a great deal more power over their wives than they do nowadays. Her sister, Cassandra whispered those fears in her ear and Jane turned him down. If she were a gold digger, she would have gone through with the marriage anyway. This is a beautifully sad movie that helped bring more insight to a great writer and one of my heroes.
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I think what people are at odds with are two opposing elements of the final cut of the film. The script, which is attempting to showcase a hypothesis, as to the possible emotional components (innocence, the foolish frivolity of emotions, the fantasy of being in love, the eventual heartache and the classic wish fulfillment of a dream come true) that pepper all of Austen's characters' love stories, versus the portrayal that we get from the actress Olivia Williams, whose interpretation is uniquely hers and not necessarily, or always, in synch to the script though her acting is incredible to watch. She IS the movie, and completely believable as Jane.

The Jane in this movie, is a successful writer and while constantly and overtly verbal, witty and intelligent, appears to be a facade for her own personal yearnings and disappointments--of wanting exactly what she pens for her characters and yet, unconsciously dissatisfied by everything, and yet, somehow hopeful too. Like in her books, Jane is painfully aware of all the social structures and rules of good society, especially as she helps her favorite niece, Fanny, pick and choose the man of her dreams. Theirs is a world where marrying, and marrying well, is a business, and in its ruthless lack of intimacy or chance of happiness, compels Jane to seek out something more, possibly something greater, but what that 'something' is, be it love itself or not, will elude her all her life. Only in her writings does she reveal her true wants, but I think this film moves beyond the idea of love and being in love, but focuses on Jane's forward thinking and the constant attack of her independence and individuality, her exploration and questioning of the status quo, of the meaning behind love and marriage, for herself more than society as a whole.
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