Literary scholars will have, by now, read the titular novel on which this, Jane Eyre (2011) is based, seen an adaptation or been introduced to Charlotte Bronte’s works through a modern interpretation, one of which features Jane as some sort of vampire-slayer.
Jane Eyre (2011) Film Review
I do not count this story among my very favorites, but I do love the story because unlike other Bronte works, it does retain a happy, if not completely conclusive ending. Most reviewers in the blog scene (and I realize that I am probably the only person who hasn’t seen this but, still, I thought I’d share my thoughts) who I follow adored this adaptation. My thoughts wound up being somewhat split, but nevertheless, here they are.
Since most of us know how the now iconic Bronte story plays out I won’t bore you with a synopsis. I think everyone is well acquainted with the plain, orphaned Jane and the brooding Mr. Rochester, their meeting and eventual relationship. The writers and director actually do a beautiful job with this feature film. For me, this film was a pleasant surprise. I figured I’d “like” it but didn’t plan to count it among one of my favorite adaptations. I have probably seen three versions before this, including A&E’s, Miramax’s feature film and the 1980s BBC classic.
Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender actually make a complex, compelling on-screen couple. I thoroughly enjoyed their scenes together. There isn’t always expression and emotion funneled into the scenes, which might at times be a drawback. Most of the time there is an apparent reluctance fueling Jane’s struggle and Edward’s growing affection towards Jane is likewise conflicted.
Notable co-stars include the always wonderful Judi Dench, Holliday Grainger (The Borgias), Imogen Potts (Miss Austen Regrets) and Tamzin Merchant (The Tudors) along with Jamie Bell whom many might remember as Smike from the Miramax version of Nicholas Nickleby. The film also has some truly beautiful moments and filming. It begins dark and morbid as many prior versions have but as Jane’s circumstances change, as she begins to experience all-consuming love, so does the scenery. Spring time comes and with it the beauty of nature. There is one particular scene that I love, all outdoors in a montage that sees Jane and Edward under the apple blossom tree, it’s so pretty.
CLASSIC ROMANTIC MOMENT | Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester
I haven’t read the book, but I don’t like some of the liberties this one takes in comparison to previous adaptations. Edward’s perpetual gruffness is fine but then as a result, the charm of Adele is lost in the shuffle. I like the interaction he has with Adele in other productions. Something about these moments softened him, here, from Edward himself, we learn he “dislikes” children. I have to keep reminding myself that when writers limit themselves to a mere two hours, certain things will be shortened or cut altogether whereas a miniseries has a lot more flexibility. Even Jane and Adele don’t share a very close relationship.
Nevertheless the script holds its own with some unique, beautiful storytelling. The beginning of the movie shifts back-and-forth between Jane’s childhood and her life following Thornfield Hall. This filming isn’t in the best interest of the story, but it only lasts about fifteen minutes whereas we don’t meet Mr. Rochester until a good twenty-some minutes have go by.
…I ask you to pass through life at my side. You are my equal, my likeness… – Mr. Rochester
My mom and I saw this version one Saturday morning, and the fact that even she likes it as a favorite next to the 80’s miniseries is saying something because she doesn’t much like the story of Jane Eyre, period. Indeed while it is a morbid tale (in case you haven’t seen a version of this, this is good to know). Despite petty grievances, I actually find this version quite charming. On impulse I decided to buy a copy, and am not sorry to have done so. The proposal scene is lovely as are some of romantic sequences between Jane and Edward. It might not seem so, but writers piece together a different take on the classic material to bring with an interesting love story between an already well-known couple. And the results impress.
(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)
You can find Jane Eyre (2011) digitally on Amazon Video
‘Jane Eyre’ (2011) – A Pretty Vision Re-Tells the Love Story. A review of Jane Eyre (2011) with Michael Fassbender. #PeriodDrama #JaneEyre Click To Tweet
Jane Eyre is PG13 for “thematic elements” – there are some “scary” moments and Jane discovers she was about to marry a man who was not free to do so. Children all ill-treated at a boarding school.