Novelist Biopics: “Becoming Jane” vs. “Mary Shelley”

 Becoming Jane  is currently on Netflix! Watch it for free! For the sake of this review, I rewatched it from the last time it was on HBO(?). Could these two films have “same movie syndrome?”

On the surface, yes. Both films are about female novelists when publishing a book with a woman’s name represents failure. 

I relate to Jane Austen and her works in that the world from the time I was born speaks to me as if I am an object for sale. You date so-and-so. “Girls like you end up with someone like that,” as if my entire being deserves to be one big Stepford wife story. People have opinions about everything. Nobody asks what I want.

With Mary Shelley, I connect to her being rejected as a female author. Or, she must have had her husband write Frankenstein ! A university professor accused me of stealing my entire semester’s worth of homework. For film score music, when I was turning 20, a filmmaker who promised to work with me had an agency film score composer take my theme and redo it. People will in this day and age discriminate against female journalists, or females of any profession. I want to scream, “I don’t have a stereotypical female bone in my body! The female name is it!” Nothing.

Frankenstein  fans will come to the movie expected plenty of that. We see a few neat looking fantasy scenes leading up to her novel. Mary Shelley’s biopic has the same film aesthetic like Interview with the Vampire . Very little is said about Frankenstein . We learn about why she wrote about a mad scientist’s monster. 

Personally,  Frankenstein’s monster is overdone and not inspiration for my work. He runs a little too scary for me; I am a fan of the silly and strange. Sometimes, scary blends into silly and strange with work I love by people like Tim Burton, whose Frankenweenie  and Nightmare Before Christmas  wouldn’t have happened were it not for Frankenstein’s monster. Credit is deserved when it’s due. I take these modern works for granted. Inspiration had to come from somewhere.

Both ladies were teenagers when they wrote these great works. You feel like a loser watching the movies. When I was a teenager, my single accomplishment to global feminism was teaching girls I knew how to apply Almay eyeliner like an ancient Egyptian Avril Lavigne. Jane Austen ran to her room inspired to write the English language’s greatest novels. By 18, Mary Shelley had a poet’s clique she ran with, lost a child, been the scandal of London living in wedlock and was shopping around her Frankenstein   manuscript.

As film heroines, both young women have timeless stories we can learn from and cry from. 

With the films themselves, Becoming Jane  gets a bit boring at times. We have a great joke like “Can we do something about it?” when people catch Jane, who can’t stop writing. We see fearlessness in her playing an outdoors game with the young men. Soon, the scenes become dreary like uugghhhhhhh.........someone yell cut please. 

Mary Shelley holds my concentration better. Produced by the British Film Institute, the production is a calm story, very British, and the difference is in how it doesn’t bore you. Storytelling is an art, or every film we ever make would be hits. I appreciated the attention to detail in sets, costume and acting performances that lacked in Becoming Jane . Becoming Jane  feels like a really good TV movie you love in spite of its flaws. Mary Shelley  is a movie you love because it feels so slick.

Either film is a good idea. I invest myself more in people’s works when I learn about them. Reading someone’s life online doesn’t influence me like watching their lives unfold. You don’t know what really happened nor what was said. Thinking about our own lives being filled in by some screenwriters centuries out—you know people will get things wrong. 

I hope if these ladies somehow know their lives are on screen, they approve of the films because to me, they showed people cxwith strong character and how times change a bit but don’t change at all. Earning the right to vote doesn’t end female discrimination. What does it take? 

Mary Shelley  was just added to Showtime streaming, chickens! Go watch it! FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE for subscribers. No excuses!