BBC Production - 2007
Gwyneth Huges imagines the last few years of Jane Austen's life in this BBC movie of the year 2007.
The movie starts with the big occasion that Jane supposedly looks back upon, the time when she accepted and then refused, the very next day, the proposal of marriage from Mr. Harris Bigg-Wither. We know when we learn what Mr. Bigg was really like, that Jane was right to refuse him. Her principled stand caused her to live in poverty for the rest of her days. It befits the writer of the best romance novels ever, to decide in favor of love and forgo thoughts of material comforts.
This is also the advice she gave Fanny Austen Knight, her niece when asked for her advice on whether or not to accept a proposal of marriage. She writes, "having written so much on one side of the question, I shall now turn around & entreat you not to commit yourself farther, & not to think of accepting him unless you really do like him. Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection".
Jane Austen remained single all her life. The movie imagines her last year and tries to work out whether she felt any regret at refusing Mr. Bigg. The movie also imagines a more suitable suitor for her, the one who could not wait and wonders if she felt any regret for having refused him.
It is a lovely script. It does not stray too far from the facts. There is a lot of witty dialog in here worthy of Jane. She admits that a man as perfect as Mr. Darcy can only be invented.
Olivia Williams does a wonderful job as Jane Austen, as does Greta Scacchi as Cassandra. Fanny Knight, whose quest for a partner is also a theme of the movie, is very effective. It is through her eyes that we get to take a look inside Miss Jane. We get to see dishy men like Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Bonneville too, for can we be far away from dishy men when we are reading Jane Austen?