Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) believes in love. Her parents (Julie Walters and James Cromwell) want her to marry for money and in 1795 England that was the way of the world for a young woman. But when the 20-year-old meets the dashing young Irishman, Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), his intellect and arrogance ignite Jane's curiosity and her world spins head-over-heels. Can Jane afford to spurn the offer of Lady Gresham's (Maggie Smith) nephew, defy the authority of her parents and fly in the face of social convention? In Becoming Jane, a young lady on the first rung of her literary greatness risks a romance that was to shape her life and her work.
A biographical film about Jane Austen - but how much is fact and how much is surmise? Did Austen really nearly elope with the future Lord Chief Justice of Ireland? Half the fun of this film is trying to spot the parallels between the alleged facts in the film and incidents or characters in Austen's fiction. The Austen parents bear a strong resemblance to the Bennetts in Pride and Prejudice, Maggie Smith plays a Lady de Bourg type and I suppose James McAvoy is meant to be either D'Arcy or Willoughby.