Monday, 21 March 2011

Jane Eyre (2011)


Dir: Cary Fukunaga (Sin nombre)
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Valentina Cervi
UK, 2011

Seen: March 18, 2011 at the Varsity

Reason to see: It's the March Film Selection for the Movie Moxie Book to Film Club

It feels odd to say this, but Jane Eyre one probably the book to film adaptation that I was most hesitant about for the Book to Film Club, because I hadn't read the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë before this year and the number of historically set films based on books that I've enjoyed is, well, limited at best. But things were looking up as I absolutely adored the book, and hopefully but cautious about the film. I didn't watch any of the trailers and had seen just a few posters and images which seemed to aptly capture the tone and period as well as showing the cast looking striking.

I also had several hesitations going into the film, because it's such a great story and the character of Jane Eyre is truly wonderful in so many ways that you really want the film to capture her and her story just right. And it really is her story, I would have been miffed if they shifted that focus at all but thankfully it's true to the book in that sense and keeps it very much her story. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Kids Are All Right) does a great job of bringing Jane to life, from her frankness to her realism and also her strong sense of right & wrong at all times. I found that her strength of character was aptly depicted, especially how she is an active decision maker regardless of the trying circumstances she may be in, but I do wish they had also showcased her intelligence as much as her emotional strength, because it's such an essential part of the character. It's still there, but not as present as I had wished and that could be from particular scenes and moment from the book that resonated particularly strongly with me.

It's a huge undertaking to adapt a book like this, and there are several moments especially in her earlier life I wish we had seen, but I'm not overly surprized that they choose to focus on her days at Thornfield and the relationships with Rochester as well as St. John. I have to say that the casting in the film is fantastic, when I heard that Michael Fassbender (Fish Tank) would be playing Rochester I knew we were in for a treat and he's absolutely perfect. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott, The Eagle) is also great as St. John, although they downplayed the religious nature of his character which was quite a surprize. There were several changes and choices that I was surprized at, and actually didn't love, although they often felt like choices that would make the story feel more accessible for current day audiences but I would have preferred them to be true to the book. There were lots of things that I resonated more with the story while watching it as a film over reading though, namely the character of Mrs. Fairfax, played by Judi Dench and the vastness of Thornfield and surrounding countryside which made it feel like nothing at all could be nearby and thereby making the world feel spectacularly enormous. They also highlighted a repeated sense of the slightly supernatural, hints of which I must have totally missed while reading!

I feel like I'm harping on the little things here and there, but that's because each and every other moment was amazing. The tone and pace was just right. The characters & relationships were complicated and true. And Jane Eyre was Jane Eyre, a hold strong, fantastic woman who is aspiring, inspiring and true. I'm so glad I read the book first, and would highly recommend people do the same but even so Jane Eyre (2011) is a very powerful, magnificent film.

See also: Jane Eyre DVD Review

Shannon's Overall View:

I really enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I strongly recommend it, especially for those who enjoy period pieces and/or films with female protagonists

Also see: 2011 Book to Film Club, 2011 Book to Film Adaptations and All Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011



The Eternal Intern said...

I just re-watched the 1996 Charlotte Gainsbourg version. I LOVE Jane Eyre so I am so looking forward to seeing this latest version. Thanks for the review! xx Ophelia

Suzie Ridler said...

Oh no! They didn't spend a lot of time on her childhood? Oh that is so important to show who she is and why. Grr.... I love that it sounds like they captured the isolation due to geography really well, that is fantastic. Love that the spookiness was still there, excellent. Oh man! Why isn't it showing here? Guess I'll be waiting for this one. So glad you got to see it and totally love that photo of you Shannon!

Movie Treasures By Brenda said...

Still waiting for my chance to see this movie! Glad you enjoyed your opportunity.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Wow, there is a Charlotte Gainsbourg version? I can imagine that being amazing!

No, not a lot of time in childhood. I can understand doing that from a film perspective, especially to keep visual continuity with the actor playing the adult Jane, but I missed a lot that was in the book but didn't make it to the film.

Release date seems to be coming out incrementally. More release dates in Canada are:
April 1, 2011: Ottawa, Edmonton & Calgary
April 8, 2011: Halifax, Winnipeg & Victoria

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