Historical "what if?" stories are a great lark for devoted fans. But like the far cleverer SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998), this lavishly appointed film spins a grand, doomed love from the loose threads of a great writer's life and then suggests that this imaginary romance is the source of that greatness. Jane Austen deserves better than to be subordinated to her own creation, the spirited Lizzy Bennet.
Steventon, Hampshire, 1795: Twenty-year-old Jane (Anne Hathaway) is a spirited trial to her long-suffering mother (Julie Walters), who despairs of getting both her daughters safely married and out of genteel poverty. Elder and more pliant daughter Cassandra (Anna ...