Monday, October 31, 2011

Jane Eyre 2011

I finally watched this movie last month and thought it powerful, faithful, and way too short. How I wish these actors, this set, this director, this production had yielded a mini-series instead of a 2-hour movie that was really more of an outline of the story than a telling of it.

I felt that the script popped from one key episode to the next in the Jane Eyre story outline, but there wasn't time to explore the subtleties of the story or characters. I actually don't think anyone who didn't know the story could follow what was going on. It seems like it should've been called "Scenes from Jane Eyre" rather than "Jane Eyre."

That said, I really liked the movie. I thought Mia Wasikowska was perfectly cast as Jane. The right combination of quiet determination and passion, moral uprightness and self awareness and depth of feeling. Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester was also perfect in my eyes--attractive but definitely not in a conventional way. Gruff, simmering, selfish, manipulative, passionate.

Judi Dench was marvelous as Mrs. Fairfax. I was actually a bit concerned about her in this role. I didn't much care for her as Lady Catherine in P&P from a few years ago, but she played Mrs. Fairfax so well--the faithful servant who knows much and especially how to keep her own counsel, married to the class system, but still compassionate with regards to Jane's predicament.

I never imagined Thornfield as a castle and that's how it appears in the movie, but the interiors were consistent with the world of the novel, and I especially loved the landscape shots.


  1. I'm hoping to catch up with this movie at some stage and I'll certainly be comparing it with the excellent BBC adaptation from a few years ago - I do like Michael Fassbender, though!

  2. I really liked this one too. I even got a bit teary at the end -- which is quite amazing since I have known the ending for the past 20-something years! But yes, a lot of things were glossed over (like Blanche Ingram -- I couldn't even tell which girl she was for the longest time!).

  3. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Jane. JE is my favorite novel, and I cringe a little when new adaptations come out. I will seek this one out without fear. :)

  4. Very apt: "Scenes from Jane Eyre." So true. Except for the Masterpiece theatre version starring Ruth Wilson, many Jane Eyre adaptations suffer from too-great compression of a novel that is densely packed but with nothing wasted.

    Great descriptions of what both Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender achieved in their portrayals. I too liked them both. These characters have so many facets that I think it is possible to find either the Wilson-Stephens pairing or the Wasikowska-Fassbender matchup (or other pairs) to be faithful, exciting, and revealing embodiments of their roles.

  5. Great review Jane. I saw this when it came out. I wasn't impressed but merely because of one of the things you brought out. If you didn't know the story already you wouldn't know it from this movie. I loved the artists chosen, the scenery, etc. but story-telling it lacked. Then I took a group of women friends to view it a second time. They loved it. Especially the younger ones. But they asked a zillion questions because they didn't know the story - which made my point. Then I watched it a 3rd time at a friend's house with a group of friends. They loved it. Some familiar and some not. By that time I thoroughly enjoyed it also. But whether it was due to the companions, or the amount of times seen, or what I'm not sure. I still wish the story had been told better but I agree totally with your perspective.

  6. Forgot to add my favorite is still primarily the Stephens-Wilson pairing. Tho' Ciaran Hinds does a wonderful job as well. I thought he fit the Rochester I read in the book - gruff, dark, egotistical.

  7. I recently saw this version too, and I completely agree with your assessment, Jane! It was like bits of the book popping up on the screen. Some of it was very well done - Fassbender as Rochester very good, Mia as Jane and capturing her spirit as well as how she tried to fit in - and the scenery was spectacular. I have always enjoyed the book. I am not sure if I will get this movie for my collection yet or not.

    Good review, Jane! Is there a Jane Eyre movie/tv production that you do think serves the book well? Oh - this version really skipped over the part of her life at the school and how important Miss Brookes is to her, didn't it? I was disappointed in that, since I always feel that was instrumental in softening and civilizing Jane so that she could go out into the world.