Here's a quiz that has nothing to do with how good or bad Jane Eyre is, the film based on the classic novel most of us had to read in school by Charlotte Bronte. What's a worse movie watching experience? A: Theater full of teenagers. B: Theater full of ethnic stereotypes (you know what I mean). C: Theater full of old people. After seeing Jane Eyre I can confidently say that the answer is C. My theater was packed with the geriatric and if they weren't loudly snorting in through their nose every 15 seconds or trying to gnaw down their buttered popcorn, then they were loudly explaining the movie to each other. But I will try not to allow that to ruin my opinion of the film...I just had to vent.
Like all movies that are based on a book, you have to prepare yourself for a lean and trimmed representation of what the pages contained. Unfortunately for director Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre), Jane Eyre is a really long book. What they chose to chop was selective and calculated but it was also somewhat vital to character development. If you never read the book and expect the movie to make you love Jane as much as the readers do, you will be disappointed. But this should make English teachers happy who will easily be able to catch whether or not a student read the book or saw the movie...be warned!
The film has a great dreary look to it and I know it's easy to chalk up the overcast sky and pall of gloom as...well...England, but it actually fits the mood of the story very well. Of course after sitting through two hours of that kind of atmosphere, it doesn't make you feel romantic at all and instead makes you want to jump off a cliff.
The performances from star Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are Alright) and Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, 300) are very good, especially from her. She displays the reserved joy and masked misery that Jane should, although the years of torment that leads to her stoic persona are cut from the film.
The problem with this adaptation is where they decided to take it. I never took Jane Eyre, the book, as a sweeping period romance but instead a gothic mystery that had romance in it. Nevertheless, a sweeping period romance is, indeed, where it ended up. I won't give anything away but scenes of spooky noises and terrifying night visions could have made the film much more entertaining to a broader audience, but instead they were cast aside to cater to middle-aged women seeking 19th century romance.
This isn't me just hating on the movie because it's simply not the book. I try to separate my feelings on the two. If you never read the book you will probably enjoy the film at a "take-it-or-leave-it" level. Dangerous though since if you did read the book, you will probably wish you did it again instead of see the film.
Jane Eyre (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B-
as always, I enjoy and appreciate your reviews! you do an excellent job of not expecting a movie to be something it isn't. also, totally impressed that you actually read Jane Eyre! the preview I saw was full of people who had no clue about the storyline. talk about confused people!
and, to add my own unrequested 2 cents, I think they did a reasonably good job of deciding what stayed and what went. I would have preferred if we hadn't seen the cliffs/hill scene twice. talk about confusing! and I wish they magically had more time for character development, but all said and done, this was by far not the worst book adaptation I have seen!