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  • Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" has been my favorite book since I was 11 years old. The tale of a feisty orphan-girl-turned-governess who finds true love in a spooky mansion and ultimately redeems a tormented hero has made it to the top of every "Best Love Stories" list since it was first published in 1847, and with good reason. It's the perfect Gothic novel, melding mystery, horror, and the classic medieval castle setting with heart-stopping romance.

    There have been at least 18 film versions of "Jane Eyre" and 9 made-for-television movies--27 in all! I have seen most of them, some multiple times–-both out of my deep love for the tale, and as part of the research for my novel "The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë," the true story of Charlotte's remarkable life, her inspiration behind "Jane Eyre," and her turbulent, real-life romance.

    Every screen version of JANE EYRE has its merits. I especially loved Timothy Dalton's portrayal of Mr. Rochester in the 1983 mini-series, and the 2006 Masterpiece Theatre mini-series starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. I was very curious to see how the new JANE EYRE adaptation from Focus Films would measure up. I am happy to report that the film, which I saw last night at an advance screening, is very good indeed, with marvelous visuals, terrific performances, and enough unique elements to make it a worthy new addition.

    The most notable distinction that sets this film apart from the rest is its structure. Rather than telling the tale in a linear fashion, it begins at a crisis moment later in the story, and tells the majority of the tale in flashback–-which works wonderfully well, enabling screenwriter Moira Buffini to effectively compress a long novel into a two-hour time span.

    The movie opens as Jane is fleeing Thornfield after having discovered Mr. Rochester's dark and heartbreaking secret. We fear for her as she becomes lost on the stormy moor. The mystery continues as St. John Rivers (well-played by a sympathetic yet appropriately stern Jamie Bell) and his sisters take her in. As Jane ruminates about the past events that led to her escape, we are treated to the story in flashback.

    The casting of Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre also sets this production apart, since she is closer in age than most actresses who've played the role to the character in the novel, who was about 18 years old in the Thornfield section. Although I wish Mia's Jane was a bit more "swoony" over Mr. Rochester earlier on (yes, she is supposed to be stoic, but I missed that phase where we get to see her blossom as she falls in love with him, and then is utterly crushed when she believes him to be in love with Miss Ingram), Mia truly inhabits the role, beautifully portraying Jane's sense of self-respect, integrity, and restraint, as well as her passion and vulnerability.

    Michael Fassbender embodies Mr. Rochester with the ideal blend of charisma and sinister brooding, while at the same time allowing glimpses of his underlying desperation and the wounded depths of his soul. Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Reed effectively portrays the icy ogre who menaces the young Jane (a spirited and appealing Amelia Clarkson.) And Judi Dench, as always, gives a superb performance as housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax.

    The film's locations do justice to the novel's often gloomy, atmospheric tone. Director Cary Fukunaga makes excellent use of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, one of the oldest houses in England, as Thornfield Hall, emphasizing its dark, Gothic, masculine feel. The exterior locations--gardens, cliffs, craggy rocks, stone walls, and seemingly endless fields--make an arresting, dramatic backdrop for the story. You truly feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere.

    My only minor gripes are that when Mr. Rochester's secret is revealed, it feels a little too prettified, and the ending was too abrupt for me. But that aside, the filmmakers have done a masterful job translating the novel to the screen. I highly recommend it! --Syrie James
  • The oft-filmed Charlotte Brontë's Gothic novel has been adapted into TV and film more than two dozen times. Here's a summary of what works and what doesn't in this 2011 version:


    • Cary Fukunaga's direction. He preferred natural light for much of the film, forgoing camera lighting and instead opted for candles which created the proper dark, moody and gloomy atmosphere that matches Rochester's temperament perfectly. He used some hand-held camera work to great effect, but not too much so that it became distracting. Thornfield Hall, Rochester's expansive mansion looked like something Count Dracula could comfortably settle in. It practically becomes its own character here and adds the necessary spookiness we come to expect from this Gothic tale.

    • Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax – When does Dame Judi ever disappoint? Apparently never. Even in small roles, the scenes she's in are one of the best ones in the movie. There was an important scene involving Jane and Rochester where Mrs. Fairfax didn't utter a single word, but she made quite an impact just with her expression.

    • Mia Wasikowska as Jane. A lot of the issues I have with literary adaptation is that the supposedly plain heroine usually ends up being played actresses who are too glamorous for the role. Fortunately in this one, Wasikowska was believable as a plain young girl, though she obviously is a pretty girl. At 18, she's also the perfect age for the role. If I were to nitpick though, she's not exactly 'little' as she's described in the novel as Rochester doesn't quite tower over her. In any case, I thought she did a wonderful job carrying the film. She captures the essence of the strong-willed character who holds her own against her much older subject of her affection, and one who despite 'not being well-acquainted with men' doesn't seem intimidated by them.

    • Michael Fassbender as Rochester. In many ways, we evaluate a Jane Eyre adaptation by its Rochester, and as long as we use that 'calculation,' I think he measures up quite well. He has a strong screen presence and is the kind of actor who's usually the best thing even in a so-so film, and he makes the most of what's given to him. Even with the relatively short screen time, which is less than what I had hoped, he's able to make us care for Rochester.


    • This cliff-notes version feels way too fast. With a complex story like this, no doubt it'd be a challenge for any filmmaker, no matter how talented, to pare it down into a two-hour movie. So it's inevitable that this film just moves along too quick for me. Of course that is not Fukunaga's fault and he really made the best of it, but still this version just leaves me wanting more. I guess this is perhaps a more 'accessible' version for the crowd that otherwise would not watch JE. But to me, the story is compelling enough that an extra half-hour would only enhance the viewing experience and allow enough time for the characters to develop an authentic connection.

    • Dialog omission. This is perhaps a result of being 'spoiled' by the comprehensive 1983 version (which at 5.5 hours is perhaps the longest screen adaptation). Of course it's impossible to include every single dialog from the book, but I was hoping at least some of the important ones are kept. The famous quotes such as "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me", "Do as I do: trust in God and yourself", "Reader, I married him" are not spoken in this adaptation. I also find some of the delivery lacks bite, y'know that certain oomph that an actor does to bring those timeless words to life.

    • Jamie Bell seems miscast. Now, keep in mind I really like Jamie as an actor and have said so many times on my blog ( However, I don't feel he's right for the role of St. John Rivers. Firstly, when you've already got someone as striking as Fassbender as Rochester, I'd think the casting agent would have to find someone much fairer than he. No offense to Jamie, but that's not the case here and he certainly doesn't fit the book description of 'tall, fair with blue eyes, and with a Grecian profile.' Now, physical appearance aside, he also lack the solemn and pious sensibility of a Christian missionary.

    • Unconventional storyline – Moira Buffini's script tells the story in flashback mode instead of following the novel's linear storyline. The movie starts off right as Jane is leaving Thornfield, which is right smack dab where the main crisis of the story begins. Now, I can understand that it's done to make it less tedious, yet it gets confusing at times to figure out which part happens in the past or present. I think for someone not familiar with the book, the shuffled time line might be a bit tough to follow.

    IN CONCLUSION, despite leaving the theater wanting more, I do think this is a worthy adaptation. The production quality is top notch, with gorgeous cinematography, affecting light work and music that serve the story well. There is even one scene of Jane and Rochester that Fukunaga took liberty with that's quite tantalizing. It caught me off guard but I must say that scene left me breathless and is an effective way to convey how much Jane longed for her true love.

    But in the end, even though I adore Fassbender, he still hasn't replaced Timothy Dalton as my favorite Rochester. Sure, the production quality of this one is superior, but what makes a Jane Eyre story so fascinating and memorable are the heart-wrenching connection between the two main protagonists and the dialog spoken between them, so in that regard, the 1983 version is still the one to beat.
  • I saw a sneak preview of Jane Eyre last night at AFI/Silver in Silver Spring MD. This is a beautifully filmed, engrossing, and haunting version of the classic Charlotte Bronte novel Jane Eyre. This film is worth seeing and it will leave you thinking about it long after you have left the theater. It captures that otherworldly and isolated environment that Jane inhabits in her lonely life. After you witness the unloved childhood and brutal boarding school you can understand how Jane can not only adapt to her isolated employment but revel in a world where the absence of abuse is a relief. One thing that struck me was the way the actress portraying Jane Eyre, Mia Wasikowska, inhabited Jane's being. The quiet stillness, the dignity, the steely nerves under the mask of composure. I have been trying to recall another actress who portrayed the physicality of a woman, a governess, in that time period so perfectly. She wasn't a modern actress in a corset, she moved like a young woman who is used to the corset and layers of cloth, and the expectations on a young woman in Victorian England. I also particularly enjoyed the portrayal of a vibrant, intelligent, woman who knows she is caged by the norms of her society and her position in it. Miss Wasikowska did a wonderful portrayal of Jane, giving her great depth while still letting the emotions flit across her usually stoic face. I also liked Mrs Reed - she is a wholly human villain, petty, cruel, insecure, and resentful. You can see her in Miss Ingram, a petty woman who could turn hateful. The young Jane is a stand out performance, all spit and fury, you realize that Jane's survival is due to her courage. That the intensity of the child is coiled inside the adult Jane. The cinematography is beautiful, the sets and costumes look accurate, the screenplay handled well, and the directing outstanding. I also appreciate that no character was over done. This film will age well, where some other versions can make you cringe now. This film is going to make me pick up the novel and read it again after a very long time. Not a bad recommendation for a movie.
  • As an avid fan of the novel, I was very excited to see this preview and I have waited anxiously for the film. I finally saw it today at the threatre and it was wonderful! Excellent. This is the best film version of "Jane Eyre" yet (and I've seen most of them.) This is hands-down the best CASTING for "Jane Eyre" yet. I have never seen a more perfect Jane Eyre, Edward Rochester, or Mrs. Fairfax. Period. Jane brought tears to my eyes so many, many times in this film. She was simply perfect. Small, soft-spoken, young, composed, graceful, dignified, and lovely in her uniquely plain way. And Edward Rochester? Wow --what a ruggedly handsome man! He was certainly not "pretty-boy handsome"; but rugged, masculine, with sharp features, a deep voice, and a sometimes abrupt and harsh manner. He was exactly as described in "Jane Eyre!" BRAVO to you both, Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska!

    In my opinion, Fassbender and Wasikowska have finally given us perfect embodiments of all we adored in them.... Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester--two of the most beloved fictional characters of all time. Brilliant performances, really. I am truly delighted.

    The sets, costumes, lighting, art, mood, cinematography, and score were all excellent. I hope the Academy Award is awake and paying attention!

    Loving the novel as I do, I found a few flaws I must mention: I didn't think Blanche was nearly pretty enough; Bertha was not frightening enough; Rochester's kindnesses to Jane were not displayed here (an audience member might wonder why she loved him as she did); St. John Rivers was a much harsher character here --not gentle and lovable as he was in the book; and lastly, the film was less than two hours long and therefore too much was left out of the story. I fervently wish it could have been 20 or 30 minutes longer. Another 20 or 30 minutes might have helped the audience understand even better Jane's desolate past, her fierce love for Rochester, and her bright future.

    That may sound like a lot of criticism, but you must consider what a masterpiece the novel "Jane Eyre" is. The novel is often considered ahead of its time due to its masterful portrayal of the development of a thinking and passionate young woman who is individualistic, desiring for a full life, while also highly moral.

    Overall, I highly recommend the film. It was artfully told. I cried; I gasped; I laughed; I flinched; and I cried some more. I know I'll enjoy watching it again and again.

    THANK YOU to the actors, director, and everyone involved in bringing this film to its fruition. Hopefully, it will prompt new generations of fans to read the novel and fall in love with Jane Eyre, as so many of us have since it was published in 1847.

    This film is beautiful, romantic, frightening, sometimes funny, and ultimately very moving. See it on the big screen at the theatre. I think you'll love it!
  • PWNYCNY25 March 2011
    This movie is exquisite. It is an example of how a dramatic movie should be made. Far from being corny or contrived, this movie is about integrity, courage, loyalty, and friendship. The movie is beautifully filmed and conveys the moodiness and foreboding associated with the story. The acting is great by all members of the cast. This movie tells a story and tells it well. It provides a glimpse of nineteenth century English society and how people looked and acted at that time. Yet the movie is more than a period piece; its themes are timeless. At no time does the story drag. Jane Eyre is heroic. She is the epitome of human goodness, not the kind that's candy-coated but the kind that is genuine. She transcends a harsh childhood to become a source of great strength for everyone around her. Unlike most Hollywood movies today, Jane Eyre is story-driven, and the story is strong. This movie is well worth watching and the title character is a role model for adolescents or young adults of all ages to emulate.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm very surprised to read the glowing reviews this version of Jane Eyre is receiving. Like other reviewers, Jane Eyre is my absolute favorite book and so I've seen every TV/movie version of it starting with the Orson Welles version. I will agree that the scenery was gorgeous, but other than that, I was pretty disappointed. There's no way to condense this fantastic story into a two-hour movie and do it justice; there's just too much detail and when left out, it makes for a choppy retelling. While watching it, at first I kept "filling in" all the parts that were left out. Then I'd try to watch it as someone who had never read the book, but that left me too confused because of the speed at which the story was told, and the flashback retelling of the story.

    Also, this version has Jane becoming an heiress, but what about the fact that St. John and his sisters truly *are* Jane's relatives??? Her generosity to them wasn't just a nice gesture for taking her in when she showed up at their door.

    The ending completely irritated me. Jane and Rochester's reunion at the end was a second love story, and it received all of 1-2 minutes before cutting off.

    I also agree with other reviewers who didn't see/feel any passion between this Jane and Rochester. While I did like their looks for the parts, their scenes together felt like they were reciting lines, not falling in love with each other. And I didn't see any of the passion in Michael Fassbender that you could see with Timothy Dalton or Toby Stephens. If anything, he made me think that Daniel Day-Lewis would make for an excellent Rochester by bringing more depth to the character.

    All in all, I would recommend people to use their money to rent the Timothy Dalton or Toby Stephens version of this story vs. using it to attend this version.
  • The story isn't well told. Situations come and go without connection as if all the audience had read the book. They had eliminated things that, in the opinion of the writer, may be garbage (which makes the situation worse)...

    We are not given the opportunity to be involved in the relationship Jane/Rochester because there is any chemistry between them. There is no gradation in their relationship! Where is Grace Pole and the suspicious laughter? (They have been ignored.) Rochester has no charisma! There is no real excitement, except in the scene where they expose their love. The following scene: marriage/ discovery of the secret happens with a rate that ruins any climax! Mia Wasikowska: seems that her talent really only appears in the most dramatic scenes in which she had to use tears. Moreover, in the rest of the film her expression and facial changes are scarce.

    Is a disappointment because this movie adds nothing. a movie is much more than its technical side ...

    If you want to see a real adaptation see the one made by BBC in 2006
  • Charlotte Brontë's seminal literary work "Jane Eyre" has been adapted countless times and prepared in a myriad of ways from the 1943 Joan Fontaine/Orson Welles version that was whittled to an hour and a half to the 1983 BBC mini-series with Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton that spans five-plus hours. That certainly begs the question of why anyone, from writer Moira Buffini to director Cary Fukunaga to Dame Judi Dench, would feel inspired to recreate this coming-of-age story about love and accepting its blemishes.

    Fukunaga's ("Sin Nombre") take doesn't exactly provide an amazing revelation or epiphanic justification for bringing "Jane Eyre" back to life, but it does prove that no classic can be so overdone that it becomes untouchable; even the most tried and dated of love stories can find new life. Fukanaga has given "Jane Eyre" a photorealistic makeover devoid of frills and fiercely au naturel, but no less gripping than the story's "livelier" retellings.

    Fictional period dramas often feel overtly pristine and glazed over to the point of fairytale, but in watching this film, you get the sense that this is quite possibly how the story would have looked and felt if it had been true. All the way down to accents, this rendition has clearly labored over historical authenticity and it shows in the finished product.

    Mia Wasikowska ("The Kids Are All Right") continues to choose spot-on independent films despite leading the billion-dollar "Alice in Wonderland" of 2010 and it continues to pay off. She's clearly adept at embodying literary characters, or at least at recreating them within herself rather than worrying about trying to become the way the majority perceives them. Her modest looks suit Jane perfectly and she can play both the fragile girl who has been so often wronged by those who were supposed to care for her and the somewhat self-assured young woman who so plainly understands right from wrong.

    Buffini ("Tamara Drewe") tells "Jane Eyre" in an un-narrated flashback. The film opens with Jane dashing away from the spectre of the Thornfield estate and stumbling through the beautifully captured but cold and desolate English countryside in a state of total anguish. She arrives at the Rivers' place where they enquire as to her identity. As the voice of Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) beckons her, she cannot block out the memories of her journey. The film then catches up to that point in real time and continues on to the end.

    Other than a terrific performance from Amelia Clarkson as young Jane, the early chapters involving Lowood School seem to be of less significance in this version other than the very clear point to establish Mr. Brocklehurst as an insensitive headmaster and clearly spell out Jane's early traumas that have affected her perspective. The love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester and the way it affects Jane takes supreme precedence in this film and with a two- hour run time, rightfully so. Nevertheless, the short beginnings prevent the film from showing the whole scope of Jane's troubled life.

    Fassbender and Wasikowska work terrifically and manage to communicate the class and age discrepancy that made "Jane Eyre" a juicy read back in the 19th Century. Fassbender does seem to let Rochester's guard down quicker than expected, but I enjoyed his choice to be less standoffish and more brooding; he determines his secret to be more a responsibility of an unfortunate nature than a loathsome burden. His love for Jane then feels more sincere.

    An actress as magnetizing as Judi Dench choosing to play the caretaker Mrs. Fairfax sums up the humble attitude of this "Jane Eyre." She uses her gravitas to the effect of being the film's lone comic relief and complements the scenes rather than stealing them from Wasikowska, who is 55 years her junior.

    The film itself aims for subtlety and chooses not to amp up the shock value of the story's most pivotal scenes. There's some manufactured suspense, but it's mostly natural. It ends up being the most commendable aspect of Fukunaga's vision, but maybe the most hampering as well. He creates exceptional tone and mood with the help of his wonderful cast and this seizes our interest, but his "Jane" never takes a chance with any emotional punches. A superbly crafted film, just not a resonant one.

    ~Steven C
  • I read the reviews of this film a few days before it was released, and one critic said it was the best JE adaptation she had ever seen. Well, then. I had high expectations.

    WOW. It totally surpassed my expectations.

    I'm a huge fan of the book, so I was a bit unsure of this film (before I saw it, of course) because it may have altered some main details. Not true. Yes, some parts were altered, but not altered so much that it was a fallacy. Not in any way were the changes a fallacy. The changes were minor.

    The acting is wonderful, you can really sense the chemistry between Wasikowska's Jane and Fassbender's Rochester. It's well written, and the screen-writer has added in some quirky little moments that made everyone in my theatre laugh out loud.

    In other words, I loved this movie. It was a beautiful film, and it was well worth the two hour car ride to see it. I can't wait for the DVD.

  • I've seen JANE EYRE in many versions, holding the Susannah York/George C. Scott edition on a special pedestal, but this new atmospheric adaptation proves to be worthwhile. It should introduce a new audience to the classic tale.

    After scoring in the title role in Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Aussie thesp Mia Wasikowska is compelling with a plain Jane styling here again as title character, with her story told effectively in flashback, starting with her escape from the Gothic mansion of Rochester (Michael Fassbender), getting a school marm's gig from sympathetic young pastor "Sin-jin" (St. John, played by Mr. BILLY ELLIOT himself, Jamie Bell).

    Her "tale of woe", as Rochester mockingly describes it before even hearing a word, is the familiar Charlotte Bronte yarn -suffering a scary childhood at the hands of such ogres as Mrs. Reed (Sally Hawkins, in her least giggly role to date -very effective). Years at a school for castoff girls, where corporal punishment is de rigeur, merely season Jane for life's hard knocks.

    The romantic sweep of her dealings with Rochester are well portrayed, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga makes terrific use of the stark locations, shot in painterly fashion. The visuals alone make this remake worthwhile, backed by the BBC but definitely not a "Masterpiece Theatre" small-screen effort like the recent re-dos of all of Jane Austen.

    The big reveal regarding Rochester's "secret" is well-done, though I was a bit disappointed that the hindsight of two versions of Jean Rhys' prequel WIDE SARGASSO SEA was not taken into account here. I guess screenwriter Moira Buffini adhered to a more purist approach.

    Fassbender has already suffered casting criticism as being too good looking, but his acting carries the day -combining the right amount of sinister to temper the matinée idol veneer. After all, Jane is going to fall for him eventually. I still prefer Scott or Orson Welles in the role -tough competition indeed.

    Besides the principals, Dame Judi Dench is solid as a rock as Rochester's housekeeper, giving it her always-A-game approach and adding nuance to what could be merely a stock role.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A lover of Charlotte Bronte's novel, I did not care for this movie version of Jane Eyre.

    Perhaps for someone who has never read the book, the movie works, but I thought the screenplay was seriously lacking (and strangely slow paced, given how much of the story was left out).

    For my money, Moira Buffini, who wrote the screenplay, just didn't seem able to properly portray the development of Jane/Rochester's relationship, especially given the 2-hour time constraint. In fact, I was left wondering whether Buffini had thoroughly read (or attempted to understand) the novel or if she just based her hit-or-miss screenplay on some Cliff Notes version.

    I think it's safe to assume that some of the blame also lies with Cary Fukunaga's direction of his actors. For all I know, maybe the resulting movie was largely his own vision of "Jane Eyre the Movie", rather than Buffini's.

    Central to the story is the evolving relationship between Jane and Edward Rochester. However, in this version, the viewer is expected to "get" that Jane and Edward are falling for each other based on a few spotty scenes or bits of dialog, with much of the book's context missing. I found myself having to mentally fill in way too many blanks.

    I think that an extra 20 minutes would have been perfect to flesh out the Jane/Rochester dialog and to allow for the addition of a scene or two where we could see why these two people become attracted to each other. (For example, how about a 1-to-2-minute montage of scenes of Rochester waxing eloquent about his exotic travels and the interesting people he's met, with Jane listening raptly?)

    The ending needed to be expanded an extra 5 or so minutes as well. That's one of the most delicious parts of the story, and I didn't care to see it all sewn up in 60 seconds.

    Michael Fassbinder was a pleasant surprise. He might be a little better looking than Rochester ought to be, but I could see early on that he had the chops to pull off what could have been the best Rochester yet (well, in a better-written film). I liked that he seemed willing to show us the really not-so-likable side of Rochester, and those mercurial moods we see in the book.

    Mia Wasikowska's abilities I'm not too sure about (although I did think she had an acceptably young and plain look about her, unlike Ruth Wilson, whose un-Janian-like looks ruined the 2006 version for me).

    I thought that Mia largely failed to convey, with her unchanging, serious expression, all the turmoil that Jane is experiencing inwardly as her relationship with Rochester develops. Since we don't have benefit of a narrator in the movie, as we do in the book, we rely on the actor to tell or show us what's going on inside. I don't think Mia did an effective job of this.

    I found the main characters' chemistry spotty at best. I'm blaming most of this on the screenplay as well. And here's why:

    During the post-wedding scene--where Rochester pleads his case-- both actors demonstrated that they *could* have chemistry together-- nice chemistry--and *could* convey all the passion I had been expecting, but not seeing, elsewhere in the movie.

    But this chemistry only appeared for me when the dialog and the scene were fleshed out enough to clearly show the actors the way, as in the above-mentioned instance. I felt like Mia particularly did not connect with the character of Jane, without benefit of sufficient dialog, context, and direction. Again, I felt that the screenplay (and maybe direction) simply let the actors down more often than not; they simply did not have enough to "hang their hats on," so to speak.

    The one thing this version of JE really did have going for it (IMO) was the wonderful cinematography, costumes, and sets.
  • This is less a review than an impression that I've been posting at a few sites - I'm an avowed cinephile so I hope that counts for something, but for people who have not seen this film yet, I only want to give a thumbnail. Sometimes a short emotionally-infused impression is better: Oh my. I'm just back from the film and espresso afterward. Never cried so much at any film version of this story. Finally, the best-paired two actors, a writer who knew how to bring out the best of the novel, and a director to pull it all together. Somehow, Director Fukunaga found a way to make it fresh without any modernism at all, with help from Screenwriter Moira Buffini. I do not want to go into detail - I want you to discover this film for yourself. I will say, for me, they mined everything that was important and gave it beautiful expression and downplayed the melodramatic elements of Bronte's story. They simply aren't necessary. We now have a definitive version of Jane Eyre for the ages.
  • Cary Fukunaga's 2011 "Jane Eyre" is a boring, dreary, monochromatic, misconceived botch. Fukunaga doesn't know who Charlotte Bronte is, but he sure knows his Igmar Bergman. He takes a wild, beloved and accessible book about a vibrantly alive girl and turns it into a pointlessly morose, dry and impenetrable film class experiment. One must ask: why was this film even made? There are so many adaptations of "Jane Eyre" out there, including a zombie version – made before the current zombie trend. Who felt a pressing need for a sotto-voce, mud-colored, depressive and anemic "Jane Eyre" without adequate lighting?

    From the first scenes, watching this movie was tooth-grinding torture. Fukunaga's decision to make the film without lighting was a mistake. A dull, gray palette does not equate great art. If nothing else, "Jane Eyre" is one of the most colorful books ever written: there are physical fights, screaming mad women, burning castles, calculating belles, tortured and dying orphans, the reunion of long-lost relatives and long- lost lovers, psychic communication, murder attempts, big dogs, and fetching French dancing girls. There are profoundly poignant relationships, not just between Jane and Rochester, but between Jane and Bessie, a servant in her aunt's home, Jane and Helen Burns, a fellow orphan, and Jane and her student, Adele. You really can't film all that in an unlit, dun-colored setting with near-catatonic performances and expect to do it any justice at all. You are just torturing your material for no good reason, trying to turn "Jane Eyre" into something it is not.

    Also, "Jane Eyre" is a *Gothic* novel. Gothic tales are supposed to be presented in a manner that is creepy, hair-raising, and over-the-top. There are scenes in "Jane Eyre" that cry out for expressionist lighting and ominous music – like in the 1944, Orson Welles / Joan Fontain version which, if nothing else, captured Jane's early years as an impoverished orphan, and the Gothic atmosphere, very well.

    Jane Eyre, the book's eponymous heroine, is the reason to read the book. Scenes of the mistreatment of small children by callous exploiters are bearable because righteous and irrepressible Jane is your guide through all the bleakness, misery, and injustice.

    "Jane Eyre" 2011 attaches leeches to this little firebrand and attempts to bleed her dry. In the opening scenes of the book, the reader immediately knows that this is one spunky heroine who, fist balled and spine stiff in the face of earthly power, will take the reader for a bumpy but unforgettable ride. Jane fights back. Jane demands respect. Jane stands up to everyone, from a cousin who beats her, to a rich aunt who controls her fate, to a sadistic manager of an orphanage, to her "master" at her first job. Jane never stops giving lip, standing up, insisting on the worth of one of the most wretched of the earth.

    "Jane Eyre" 2011 opens with Jane sobbing and wandering aimlessly and prostrate on a rock. Why did Cary Fukunaga turn vibrant, feisty, colorful Jane Eyre into this limp, gray, pathetic loser? Was the real Jane of the book too much for him?

    There's one good bit in this botch: Michael Fassbender is an excellent Rochester, one of the very best. Enjoying his performance got me through this film. Mia Wasikowska could have made for a very good Jane, but her performance, like the rest of the film, is drained of passion. It's as if Fukunaga instructed his performers to play every scene as quickly and flatly as possible: "Here you are asking her to marry you. Play it as if you are asking her which subway train goes uptown. And remember – you are distracted, not really present, and in a hurry." There's no feeling in anything here, and "Jane Eyre" is one of the most feeling books ever written. It is a deeply passionate book, and this film is as flat as cold as and as dry as the tundra. Tundras have some purpose, though, and I can see none for this film.
  • I agree with many of the other reviews. Don't fix what's not broken. The 2006 Jane Eyre was the best and most moving adaptation of the book. The two main characters had great chemistry and you could see them falling in love. In this version, I was actually bored during the movie even though I adore this book and its love story. I was so disappointed. I never sensed that they were falling in love and when the 'big' scene came I felt nothing. I wonder if they even looked at the other versions to see what they were up against. If you're going to do a remake at least be daring enough to do something different. From the trailer, I thought it would be much darker, much scarier, much more... something! Instead, it was much less... something. As they say, 'there's nothing like a good romance movie and this was nothing like a...' you know the rest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've recently seen Jane Eyre from 1986 and from 2006 and this version, and I've read the book as well. I must say, that this newest version is the least faithful to original from all, many scenes and key dialogs changed, adjusted or cut of and with very poor acting performances. Jane Eyre, story originally full of passion and controversial emotions, rich dialogs with much depth, was in this version unfortunately reduced and lessened so much that it lost its fire and point. If I hadn't seen and read this story before, I would have considered it quite weak and empty, embarrassing pseudo-romantic story without real motion. But Jane Eyre is the exact opposite of this - sadly not in this version. I had an impression that both Jane and Rochester had only 1, at most 2 kinds of facial expressions, all the time same said and sub-depressive. I do not understand what was the director's and actor's intention in this, but in my opinion, it has missed its goal. The only enchanting thing was the music which I evaluate highly and was very captivating for me, as well as nice face of Jane.I would maybe accept hers production somehow, but "Rochester" here disappointed me entirely. To everybody who is interested in real Jane Eyre or is annoyed or unsatisfied from this version, I highly recommend Jane Eyre series with Timothy Dalton from 1986, or as well the series from 2006. There I see the fullness of emotions, scenes and scenario that I would expect from filming such quality piece as Bronte's Jane Eyre.
  • No chemistry between the characters. The actress that played Jane Eyre might as well have been a corpse. A lot of the other characters were hardly even touched upon. Perhaps this is because there just was not enough time in a movie to do the book justice and a mini series would be better. Because there was so little chemistry and character development it does not make sense why Jane and Rochester are even getting married. He does not come across as dark or tormented, and she has none of the spark or feeling that made her the unmanageable child and strong adult of the book. The A&E version with Ruth Wilson was a much more watchable adaptation.
  • The beginning is in the middle of the book! The acting.. well they READ the lines semi correctly, that is if the lines were first hacked to pieces by Sweeney Todd. No emotion until her cousin, who you never hear about the relationship, proposes. And who is this Mrs. Pool who started the house fire because she drank too much porter?! And not a single scream was heard to bring the guests into the gallery. And who casually strolls to get water to put out a fire when someone is sleeping in the bed that is on fire! This has killed the story.

    The book is wonderful, this.. this is krap! Thank you for murdering a classic!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let me preface this by saying I'm a hardcore Bronte devotee, obsessed with the book, and have seen pretty much every filmed version out there. I really enjoyed the film- acting, cinematography, costumes, etc. I loved Mia and Michael- awesome together, good chemistry, making an excellent Jane and Rochester. My main criticism would be that there were several key scenes that were omitted, primarily between when Rochester and Jane meet and when he proposes, which kind of gives short shrift to their relationship. They don't really have time to establish the bond that makes their relationship so powerful, so that it comes slightly out of left field when they confess their love to each other. Many other omissions make this feel like the Cliff Notes version, and my movie companion was left missing a lot of the magic and nuance because he hasn't read the book and was confused by some of the leaps and bounds the film made.

    The pivotal scenes that have been cut (which are shown in the trailer) are vital to the story, and I'm left wondering why they were dropped. But then that's a major pet peeve of mine: If a scene doesn't make it into the movie, don't put it in the trailer! Argh! It always feels like false advertising to me. But anyways, back to the positives...

    The scenes between Jane and Rochester feel pretty electric. Jane is sharp as a whip, which is right on target. In my opinion, the best thing about this movie is that they FINALLY showed the scene portrayed in Chapter 27, which is my absolute favorite chapter which they never do justice to in the films. They even included the "I could bend her with my finger and my thumb" line, where a desperate Rochester notes that he could physically force Jane to submit to his will, but he still wouldn't control what he cherishes most: her soul. In the film, it felt somewhat natural and organic, too, which is a hard thing to pull off. Loved it! Also, showing Rochester bursting into Jane's room the morning after, frantic to discover Jane is gone-- awesome! It's so much better than Rochester impotently watching Jane walk away, which is what some other film versions have done.

    The ending is romantic but abrupt-- I like more closure to my happy endings, and Jane and Rochester need more happiness after a lifetime of misery.

    Final critique- by switching up the chronology, you don't meet Rochester until halfway through the movie, and he's sort of the fire of the piece. Without Rochester, there's not much story, and I think the film would've benefited by introducing him a little earlier.

    Loved that Rochester puts his pants on AFTER he and Jane put out the fire. I'd always wondered if he was fully dressed...
  • I have read reviews that commented on many aspects that are horrible about the movie: lighting, acting, chemistry among the cast. All of these bad comments are richly deserved by almost everything in the movie. I just want to comment about one main thing that is missing in this so called adaptation of the great book. It is the strength of the spirit and passion. Everyone you meet in the book has both of these qualities. They are present through the way characters act and interact, the thoughts they think, the choices they make, the feelings they posses. The story takes place in England at a more traditional time, written by one of humanity great authors. For that reason the book has depth that must be captured by a movie to be successful. To people who can not identify with spirit and passion in the book it will seem arid. It is obvious how the director and actors perceived the book if they have read it at all. This movie have squeezed the life out of great literary work creating a shallow spasmodic ghost story locking any kind of depth.
  • First off, I'm a huge fan of the book. I think it may be one of the most underrated books of all time.

    Now for the movie.

    Let's get to the good:

    1) The casting- Michael Fassbender is perhaps the hottest Rochester I could ever imagine. He's got the "ugly" that the character needs while not bothering to try and hide his good looks. He brings a certain something to the character that wasn't in the books.

    Mia...whatever her last name was okay. She's young so at least they kept that in the movie. But she's quiet and meek which is what Jane is really like.

    But there is zero chemistry between them. And what there is, is forced.

    2) The music- absolutely wonderful!! 3) The scenery- Gorgeous! Just the Thornfield I had imagined in my head come to life.

    Now for the bad: 1) Pacing- The movie went by way to fast. It missed the whole buildup and friendship between Jane and Rochester so when it came to for them to declare their love, it was a WTF moment.

    2) Lack of important parts- the whole book is focused on Jane's lack of family. Then, we find out that the Rivers family is actually her family as well.

    The movie completely ignored this! And they made John into an admirer of Jane! WTF? Jane's background is barely touched on. Where is her friendship with Helen? And what about Lowood and the Reed girls? 3) Timing- Again, it was rushed. But the timing of the story is all over the place. I didn't mind that they told it as a backstory, but it was kind of distracting.

    I've seen the deleted scenes and I think that if they were included, the story would've flowed smoother and made much more sense. And really, was it that hard to include a few extra scenes that are important (such as Adele and Rochester's connection)? Those scenes would've made the movie maybe 10-12 minutes longer, which the movie desperately could've used.

    4) The Ending- Um...what? I thought I was watching Jane Eyre and not Pride and Prejudice. There was an epilogue at the end of the book which shows what happened to Rochester and Jane. Instead, the writers went for a Jane Austen ala P&P sequence that slowly fades out with them.

    Boring and anti climatic to a very predictable movie based on a very harsh and real love story.

    How can a true fan of the book say this is great? They leave out just about everything important! (ie. Bertha, Adele/Rochester connection, the Reeds, the Rivers, Lowood, Bessie, and so much more)

    However, if you never read the book, then its great. Usually I have no problem separating book from film, but this was ridiculous. They filmed most of those parts that I mentioned then deleted them.

    What a waste.
  • I have read Jane Eyre many, many times and was stunned to see the images from my own mind projected on screen. I've never been to Yorkshire, but the director captures the essence of the story as I myself have mentally lived it time and time again. It was unusual to have the narration begin in the middle of the book, but it works. The story is told in a masterly fashion, without unnecessary emphasis on the "Gothic horror" aspect so beloved of many filmmakers. Mrs Rochester gets about a minute of screen- time, because in this version her hidden presence is not the point. This is a film about Jane herself, about how she goes from unwanted orphan to governess to "freeborn independent human being" who learns to make her own way in the world. Having seen several screen adaptations of this novel, I can inequivocally say this is, in my opinion, the best of the lot. No facile emotionalism, no cheap effects--just excellent cinematography. I was struck again and again by the attention to detail that made the film a well-crafted jewel that will bear watching again and again. There's even a closeup of Jane in her simple grey dress and tucker, looking much like the famous Richmond portrait of Charlotte Bronte. The director and scriptwriter have done a sterling job in selecting the truly important plot points, events and dialogue from the novel to bring it alive for the viewer. One of the few films that will not disappoint fans of the original book, and will make the book attractive for those who haven't read it yet.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Being one of my favorite books, I was excited to see another take on Jane Eyre and while the presentation was not horrifying, I found it somewhat mediocre. Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender were unremarkable in their chemistry together. It lacked the emotion the masterpiece theater version had with Ruth Wilson as Jane Eyre and Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester. That was truly a beautiful telling. This movie was a poor shadow of it.

    Although an adequate representation, I felt it was a waste of Judi Dench's considerable talent to simply squander it on Mrs. Fairfax where the writer of the screenplay did nothing to show how versatile this actress is.

    The ending of the movie lacked any substance and felt cut off with the last line which was saccharine and left no explanation whatsoever as to what happened to these characters. I suppose by then, I didn't care since I didn't feel pulled in or emotionally involved in the entirety of the story. I will say that Jamie Bell did a very decent job as Mr. St. John Rivers.

    My advice to anyone in seeing this movie is to wait to rent it on DVD. It's not worth the $10.00 or more dollars to see it in the theater and if you haven't seen the 2006 Masterpiece Theater version, then please take advantage of that film because that was a wonderful version.
  • Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre provides a catharsis for love and romance in its pure and concentrated form. It is nearly impossible to portray it fully in a movie of 2 hours. Cary Fukunaga (The Director) has done a very good job considering these difficulties.

    The casting of Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre) and Michael Fassbender (Edward Rochester) are appropriate. Mia's subtle expressions of yearning, love and despair are beautiful. I cannot think of a better actress than Mia to play the role of Jane Eyre. Though Michael Fassbender does not fit Brontë's description of a manly and not-so- handsome figure, he does a perfect portrayal of Rochester's character otherwise. Jamie Bell's performance seems to be dwarfed by the acting of the two lead actors, which is otherwise a decent performance.

    The ending of the movie, in my opinion was a bit abrupt – considering the way it is narrated in the novel.

    Overall this movie is one of the best adaptations of classical literature I have seen.

    10 out of 10.
  • I have to admit, I was fairly surprised to see how this two hour movie achieved what many TV miniseries just barely managed - the element of belief! Incredible, incredible, incredible! Mia is just perfect as Jane Eyre! Age appropriate, she is believable as the innocent eighteen year old governess who has seen little of the world, but emulates the courage, conviction and righteousness of Greatheart! And Michael Fassbender did what no previous actor filling the shoes of Edward Rochester could do - make him pitiable and yet so adorable and charming! Masculine is the word I think.

    In this version of Jane Eyre you actually see the difference between Jane and Rochester - physical, intellectual, social, and emotional - and Mia and Michael do a convincing job of making us see why these two unlikely lovers should fall in love, and their ultimate reconciliation echoes the truth of that love which surmounted those difficulties, made them aware of their faults, brought them together as equals, and promised a happy life thenceforth.

    I was delighted to see that minor character were not overlooked, and were given their proper share of importance. A special mention of Judi Dench as Alice Fairfax, whose terrific performance threatened to overshadow the two leads.

    Every particular in this film pertaining to the era in which the story takes place has been meticulously observed. From sets to costumes to background score - its flawless! Even Thornfield appears alive and enigmatic! I would urge audiences to give this movie a try. There are hardcore Bronte fans who would detest the movie for everything that makes it superior to other adaptations, but you see, with Brontes, you either hate, or you love passionately. I fall into the latter category with regard to this film.
  • First of all, this is a gorgeous movie. Every indoor shot, close-up, and sweeping view of the landscape is an example of how cinematography can elevate a movie. Jane Eyre is a classic story for a reason, and this is as fine an adaptation I've encountered with great acting all-around, but it's the visuals and Gothic atmosphere that really made me enjoy this as much as I did. 

    On the negative side, there never really seemed to be enough interaction between the characters to justify their attachments to one another. I'm speaking specifically of Jane and Rochester, who are portrayed as being totally in love with each other without much of a reason why ever seen by the audience.

    That's a small complaint, though, and one that's easily overlooked if you're watching the movie for more than just the romantic aspect, like I was. I've got to admit, Mia Wasikowska was an excellent Jane. She fit into the time and place shown like a hand in a glove, naturally speaking the poetic dialogue. Michael Fassbender continues his inexorable climb to A-list actor status, and Judi Dench (who I didn't even know was in the movie until I saw her on the screen), is a welcome presence, as always. Jane Eyre isn't a perfect movie, but for me, its strengths far outweighed its flaws.  
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