Jane Eyre Directed by: Cary Fukunaga Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Dame Judi Dench Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: March 25, 2011
PLOT: A young governess (Wasikowska) goes to work for a man (Fassbender) who is hiding a terrible secret.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's a period piece for strong-minded women who want the potential of romance. There's something more here than just that though. The film captures tension, especially with the spooky castle.
EXPECTATIONS: Well, I thought Jane Auste n wrote this book. If that's not proof I wasn't familiar with the story at all, I don't know what else is.
ACTORS: Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre: The age of Wasikowska and this character really bring out a great element here. It does feel like we're growing and struggling with her. That's the power of this performance. You want Jane to be happy, to find someone, but you also want her to keep those principles she's held so dear. Score: 9
Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester: Mutton chops. That's what you first see. Here's a dirty little secret though ... they aren't his real sideburns. Don't worry. He's a professional actor and you'll believe the mutton chops and everything else about this character. He's a bastard who has secrets, but there is also just enough stoic charm that you root for him. Score: 8
Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers: Making this character part of the bookends of the story really helps in making him feel more than just an add-on character at the end. St. John is more of the times than Rochester and while he does act very kind to Jane, you do wonder to what end that kindness comes. Score: 7
Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax: Simply showing up is enough at this point for Dench. But that's not enough for her. As Mrs. Fairfax she's cold, loving and condescending, all at the same time. She brings an air of credibility to this film. Plus, when she tosses out lines like "How very French," with disdain, you can't help but giggle with joy. Score: 8
TALKING: The accents are great and I never doubted them. Considering most of the cast isn't English, that's saying something. There are plenty of moments where what is not said is what is truly important. They don't over talk. This makes the moments of confession much more powerful. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Absolutely captivating. The meadows, the costumes, the make-up and lack-their-of, it's all great. You know what's better? The castle. It breathes extra life into this story. Not only does it have a surprising creep factor, but the candlelight is just gorgeously captured. Most films seem to have a candle light up an entire room. Not this one. A candle does what it should, lights up a few feet in front of you and leaves the rest of the world dark and spooky. Score: 9
SOUNDS: Silence is used to great effect and you can tell it's not simply because they ran out of music. Otherwise, the musical score definitely adds to the drama and feels absolutely appropriate for the time period. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: The first time Jane is walking around the castle at night, I actually had a quick moment's thought wondering if I was sitting down to a horror adaptation like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer.
ENDING: I was content. Again, I had no clue the twists and turns of this story.
QUESTIONS: How do hardcore "Jane Eyre" fans feel about the extra scares and a large portion of the story being told in a flashback?
REWATCHABILITY: Yes, I could easily sit through this film again. That's not something I normally say about period pieces.
The story of "Jane Eyre" has been done time and time again. The novel, the plays the film adaptations crop up in our culture every decade or so. The performances are solid across the board. Everyone sounds and feels the part. What is most impressive here is Fukunaga.
Ideally, our society adapts and changes. Adapts and changes. All too often, a book/TV show/film will be dug up and adapted. Either there is barely any changes and you scratch your head wondering what the point was. Or, there's a huge shift from the original that leaves a bad feeling in your stomach about how you felt about it. Smurfs heading to New York, I'm hopefully not looking in your direction. Yes, I just dared to bring up The Smurfs while reviewing Jane Eyre. Fukunaga and the team behind Jane Eyre put their own twist, while keeping the core. They realize their is a reason to tell the story their way. So for now, unitl I see a couple other adaptations, this is my Jane Eyre and I am quite pleased with it.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10