Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Drama

jane eyre

 

Jane Eyre (Amelia Clarkson, Mia Wasikowska) is an orphan raised by her intolerably cruel aunt, Mrs. Reed. (Sally Hawkins) After getting into a fight with Mrs. Reed’s bratty son, John (Craig Roberts) Mrs. Reed sends Jane off  to boarding school at Lowood, where Jane is branded deceitful, and made to stand on a chair for the entire day.  She makes a friend, Helen Burns (Freya Parks) who literally dies in her arms. With the help of one of her teachers Miss Temple (Edwina Elek) Jane flourishes at Lowood, and becomes a teacher herself at Lowood.

Some time later, Jane applies to be a governess at Thornfield Manor, she is hired, by Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench, who does much of the administrative work of the Manor for the often absent Mr. Rochester (Michael Fasbender) Jane and Rochester finally meet, rather awkwardly, as he falls off his horse, and he escorts her back on his horse.  Despite that awkward first meeting, the two hit it off almost immediately, with Rochester pledging to treat her as an equal, despite a difference in age and social status.  The friendship turns romantic, but Jane thinks that Rochester is just toying with her and his real target de amor is the well-bred Blanche Ingram (Imogen Potts) But Rochester convinces Jane that his intentions are serious when he proposes marriage to her.  She accepts.  Imagine Jane’s surprise when she finds out on her wedding day that Rochester’s insane wife is locked up in the attic.  She calls Rochester deceitful and literally runs out on him.

She is taken into their home by evangelist St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his sisters Diana (Holliday Granger) and Mary (Tamzin Merchant)  Almost immediately, St John offers Jane a job as a schoolteacher in a girl’s school.  Jane accepts.  Then St. .John tells Jane that she has been left a large sum of money from an uncle who just died.  Jane, poor all her life is now rich beyond her wildest dreams.  Finally, St. John proposes that Jane and he go to India as proselytizing husband and wife.  What does Jane do? What does her heart tell her to do?

I liked this movie.  This is a good re-telling of the classic book.  The only problem is that the pacing of the story is way too fast, and in my opinion the miss a lot of important details in the story. For example, they gloss over Jane’s aunt, her best friend Helen’s death, and especially Jane’s teacher Miss Temple.  They don’t show Miss Temple at all in the movie, and she is a pivotal character in the story.  Miss Temple gives Jane encouragement for   the first time, and makes it possible for her to become a teacher. This version also glosses over Blanche Ingram, there was a real love triangle going on in the book, at least in Jane’s mind, and that element of real jealousy is missing.  By the time the movie gets to St. John, there’s a half an hour left in the movie, there’s not much time left for character development, so there isn’t much for St John, and that’s a shame. I don’t think the writer took the time to establish a plausible friendship between Jane and Rochester, in the book there’s all kinds of witty banter between the two, not so much in this version.  Finally, the director takes a linear  story and turns it into a series of flashbacks, some may consider it a stylish departure, but I consider it heresy.

The acting is fine.  Especially good are Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fasbender as the two leads. Also good are Judi Dench, as Mrs. Fairfax and Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Reed, I only wish their roles were bigger. But alas not.

Jane Eyre.  A too plain Jane for my taste

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