Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jane Eyre


I don't see many movies in the theater, so I'm usually way behind everyone else in seeing new releases. I have been wanting to see the 2011 version of "Jane Eyre" for quite a while now, so I was very pleased when it came up on my Nexflix queue.



Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, this is a beautiful if sometimes grim version of the classic story. Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska from Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland") leaves her joyless childhood behind to earn her way as a governess at gloomy Thornfield Hall. The master of the hall is the mysterious Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender from "Fish Tank"). From their first meeting he is demanding and abrupt, but she sees in him someone who is more like her than not, someone who is willing to engage her as an intellectual equal, someone, though he denies it, who wants to be a truly fine person.

Wasikowska's Jane captures perfectly the Jane of the book. She is small and quiet, almost supernaturally serene in the midst of life's storms, but she has a spine of steel. When she realizes Rochester's true circumstances and what he wants her to do, what he begs her to do, she stays strong. Despite her aching love for him, despite his clinging to her, desperate for that love, she holds herself away from him, knowing it is the only thing she can do and be true to herself. And when she comes back to him, when she knows it is right to come back, she does it with that same deep certainty. She has done what she must.

Some would say that Fassbender's Rochester is too handsome for the role. Certainly the book describes the character as being less than beautiful. Fassbender is no pretty boy, but he has more than his share of attractive qualities, not the least being the mere intensity of his presence. Even though Jane knows, and we know, that what he wants is wrong, he makes that desire understandable, even reasonable. He makes her denial of him seem almost cruel, even though she is the one who has been wronged.

Besides the two leads, I very much enjoyed Dame Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper. As always, she brings depth to her role, saying a great deal about the secrets she's surrounded by with just a glance or a particular tone of voice while never revealing anything in words.

I think, all in all, this is one of my favorite productions of Bronte's story. This Jane and Rochester have a tension between them that really fuels the movie. Beyond that, the supporting players, the costumes and sets, the cinematography, everything about the movie was very well done. The only thing that really bothered me was the abruptness of the ending. As a friend recently told me, "If you watch a movie where someone has been trying the whole time to get a donut, you'd better be able to watch him enjoy that donut once he gets it." Yes, this Jane Eyre gives Jane and Rochester their happy ending, but we only get the briefest glimpse of it before the credits start rolling.

Still, I would definitely recommend it. I'd like to see it again.


Did you see this version of Jane Eyre? If so, what did you think of it?

What other film versions of this story have you seen?



DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, and Letters in the Attic, a contemporary mystery. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats.

9 comments:

  1. Haven't seen this version, but the 1996 TV movie with William Hurt as Rochester and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane is still my favourite. That said it was a little short, rushed and seemingly something of an anti-religion bias that was not present in Austen's work.

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  2. I saw this version of Jane Eyre (not in the theatre but on DVD or streaming). I liked it, but thought the timeline a little choppy. (If I'm remembering correctly, I explained a couple things to the guys watching with me who'd never read the book.) Settings were fabulous.

    I've never been a huge JE fan. Not sure why because it seems like exactly something that should appeal to me. Personal taste, I guess.

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  3. Yes, they did use a lot of flashbacks in this version. I think it would be hard to follow for anyone not familiar with the story. I'm not sure why they did it that way, except the image of Jane fleeing from Thornfield Hall obviously distraught is a pretty catchy opening.

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  4. I've never seen a JE movie or read the story. Still, I've been wanting to watch the movie ever since Deb first mentioned it. Now you've made me want to watch it even more. Thanks, DeAnna. Now, I know you all are tired of me asking questions about these British actors, but was MF one of the heroes in P&P or S&S? In my defense, I now recognize his face and name. I just can't place him in the movies I've seen yet. Except for X-Men. One of these days I hope to remember ever detail about MF and RA. ;-)

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  5. RelationshipI agree it was a little confusing to someone who doesn't know the story. This is beautiful for its score, cinematography and acting. I liked the Toby Stephens/Ruth Wilson version more for the relationship though...

    That said...you made my day with the graphic tron this movie. Loved these two actors portrayal.

    Thanks DeAnna. I'm sorry I wasn't around earlier to chat up my face movie and Michael!

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  6. I don't MF was in either of those movies, Suzie. He's relatively new to me, though I did borrow XMen for him and dear James M. (Can't remember the spelling and too lazy to look!) If you like brooding romance, Jane Eyre is for you!

    Can't abide Toby for some reason, Debra. Don't know why. <:(

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  7. I thought Toby and Ruth had good chemistry. I believed their growth in relationship. The movie version had less time for it I suppose. I thought Toby Stephens did a good job in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

    But Michael Fassbender was an extraordinary Rochester, though perhaps a bit of a stretch as " not handsome" . His roles all tend toward the cool broody and virile ...I'm looking forward to something light and funny from him someday. Much like Richard A did with The Vicar of Dibley.

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  8. Hmmmm, I do seem to recall Toby Stephens was in series 3 of the BBC version of Robin Hood. The show was dire historically inaccurate PC rubbish, but Richard Armitage made it bearable.

    Toby played and delightfully slimy and wily Prince John, though he was just a little too gullible for my liking. Not sure how much I like him as an actor or not, but Richard..... he's wonderful!

    I fear you may become my love rival where Richard is concerned Deanna.

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  9. Might have to rent that Jane Eyre DVD from the University Library now (provided nobody else has got to it first). £1 for a three day loan is a dang good deal!

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