Friday, February 8, 2008

Masterpiece Theatre: Miss Austen Regrets

Miss Austen Regrets follows the beloved Jane Austen through the last couple of years of her life as she tries to help her young neice, Fanny, decide if she should accept the proposal of a young man who is courting her, and as she also reflects back on the proposals she turned down in her own life.

I found Miss Austen Regrets to be a refreshing reality check. It is so easy (especially for us single young women) to read Austen's novels and begin to view romance and love through rose colored glasses. It isn't long before we begin to judge the men in our lives against the likes of Mr. Darcy, Capt. Wentworth and Mr. Knightly. This is the trap that Fanny falls into, and poor Mr. Plumptree (like all men) falls dreadfully short. Her aunt Jane tries to change her thinking by reminding her that "The only way to get a man like Mr. Darcy is to make him up!"

Jane also tries to let Fanny know that there are so many things to consider when choosing a husband. Money, love, nature and family must all play a role in making a wise decision. But the one thing that struck me was that neither Jane nor Fanny seem to take into account the only thing that truly matters in the choosing of a mate; God's will. When we allow God to direct us to a mate, then everything else, money, nature, family and yes, even love, will follow suit.

The acting of this film was superb. Olivia Williams sparkled and smouldered by turns as Jane, and Imogen Poots was lovely as Fanny. Since most of Jane's letters were burned, we do not have a a very accurate idea of what thoughts, feelings and regrets she may have had. Nevertheless, Miss Austen Regrets is a lovely glimpse into the life of one of the most loved authors of all time, as well as a warning to love her novels for what they are, but to not try and translate them into real life.

Note: After reading my previous reviews of the other Complete Jane Austen adaptions, I think that I might have come across a little too harsh. Please understand that I thoroughly enjoyed each of these adaptations for the entertainment that they are. Could they have been better or closer to the book? Probably. But I am not a purist when it comes to screen adaptions of literature. I can enjoy them as movies, and many times they only increase my love for the great works that inspired them.

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