Becoming JaneA passion so intense, and so deep as to defy reality, a passion so deep it moves one beyond the realm of mere attraction, but a love so deep, and profound that it affects the lives of two people from that moment onward. This is the theme which drew me into Becoming Jane so much so that I saw the movie twice on subsequent afternoons.

The story, an expanded work of fiction, is very loosely based on a brief flirtation which actually occurred in the life of novelist Jane Austin. History records that something happened between the young Jane, and an upstart lawyer Tom Lefroy, but nothing came of the affair. All that remains are, from my brief research, two letters which scholars believe was the basis of the character formation of Mr. Darcy (from Austin’s famous novel Pride and Prejudice.)

Being one who loves historical drama, I was struck by the time period (the late 18th century) and the manners of this period. It was a time when restraint was in fashion, but also a time when passion was rearing it’s head leading to the romantic period. This simmering of emotion was an underlying subplot, moving characters towards their next action, while at the same time, navigating life sternly aware of proper social graces.

Unrequited love is highly romantic, and for me, brought about images of my own life which paralleled my own circumstances. Twenty-three years ago I met Gregory through a friend of mine who happened to be out shopping at the Beverly Center. We chatted, and the three of us went to lunch. Not long after I invited Gregory over to dinner, and our love affair began.

This love affair had the same passion presented in the film. This passion, and intensity was short lived as various happenstances of life prevented us from exploring a lasting relationship, but the passionate attraction, and life changing emotions were in complete accord with what I saw presented on the screen.

This flirtation, and romantic involvement was, in the late 18th century, a time warp which reminded me of my love affair in the mid-eighties, two hundred years later…..though time had passed, and the world had changed, this experience of two souls in love remained relevant in the character’s lives, and mine.

As would be guessed, Jane and Tom never consummate this love, and their lives move in separate directions. She becomes the acclaimed novelist, and he goes on to become a prominent lawyer. At the end of the film Jane is once again introduced to Lefroy whereby Jane Austin is introduced to his daughter, who invites Austin to his home to read from Pride and Prejudice.

As Jane reads from her novel to Lefroy’s daughter (also named Jane), we can see Lefroy looking down, and with mature eyes, looks past the moment seeing the Jane he first knew; they first met as she was reciting her prose. Jane finishes, and crosses her hands over the top of her book, and the film’s subtle eyes leave us with a shot of her hands clasped revealing the fact that she never married. This brought me to tears, not so much for Jane and her past love, and what didn’t happen, but for my life, and my affair, which was never able to see light.

Some 8 years after our star bright love affair ended, Gregory died from AIDS. I realized, once again, that I would never see him again, nor would I be given the moment to find out what happened to him, to share with him what has happened to me, or for that matter, see if there was enough kindling to restart the fire we began together.

A great film? I don’t think so, even though performances were outstanding, and care was given to the film’s production and execution. I think anyone who has experienced a young, explosive love affair will remember their own, smile, and shed a common tear.