TV Review: Jane Eyre Miniseries (2006)

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Romance, TV
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Jane Eyre (Georgie Henley, Ruth Wilson) is an orphan who is sent to live with her aunt, Mrs. Reed (Tara Fitzgerald) Mrs. Reed soon tires of raising Jane, who she sees as an impudent little witch, destined to ruin Mrs. Reed’s life and the life of her bratty kids.  As soon as she can Mrs. Reed ships Jane off to a boarding school called Lowood.  Jane is quickly branded a liar at the school,  but  she bears the ostracism, and punishment and develops   a friendship with a girl named Helen (Hester Odjers) Unfortunately, Helen dies shortly after befriending Jane.  Helen’s death seems to spur Jane to become a good student and eventually a teacher at Lowood.

Jane decides to move beyond Lowood, and applies for a job as a governess for a girl named Adele (Cosima Littlewood) But sparks really fly when Jane meets Adele’s guardian, Edward Fairfax Rochester. (Toby Stephens)  “Do you think me handsome?’  asks Rochester.  “No.” says Jane.  Rochester thinks that because she is a governess, and plain looking that Jane would fawn over him, but she doesn’t.  At the same time Jane enjoys the respect and attention she got from the well bred Mr. Rochester.  She cannot delude herself into thinking that Rochester loves her.  In fact, Rochester seems to be interested in Blanche Ingram (Christina Cole) a well bred young woman, who seems more interested in Rochester ‘s money than in Rochester.  Also, Jane seems to feel the haunting presence of another human being in Thornfield Hall, even though Rochester and the maidservants deny that anyone else is in the house denies it.  Jane is unnerved by the sound of a woman laughing late at night in the mansion.  Does Jane ever marry Rochester?  Whos is the woman’s voice in Thornfield.

This is a fantastic adaptation of the classic book,  The age old story of the orphan girl pulling herself up by her own bootstraps and fighting for equality in  an age where women were still treated more as property than human beings.  My quibble with the Masterpiece Theater version is that the character of Jane does not seem as self-assured and feisty as she is in the book.  In the miniseries, Jane seems content to be buffeted along by the larger-than-life personalities of Rochester and St John.  Jane is much more a conventional woman in this adaptation. That said, the acting is superb in this version.  Toby Stephens is masterful as the master of Thornfield, sweet, vulnerable yet forceful.   Ruth Wilson is mostly vulnerable and kind hearted than strong willed, but still gives a very well-rounded performance.  Andrew Buchan gives a good performance in a difficult role as the hard-headed St John Rivers.

Jane Eyre.   An air of class.

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