Jane Eyre (2011) Film Review
The film in a word, is lovely. Everything about it. And for once, I really feel like this is a story about Jane. In every other adaptation the focus of the story seems to be on Bertha, or Adele, or Blanche and Rochester etc, but this one is all about Jane. There's not as much focus on her childhood, none of Mr. Reed dying or lots of instances of cruelty, that part of the story is compressed into a few moments with not much dialogue but enough emphasis to give the story a backbone. In fact the film doesn't even begin with Jane's childhood, we see instead her heartbroken escape from Thornfield the morning after her "wedding" as she desperately tries to outrun her thoughts.
Michael Fassbender's portrayal of Edward Rochester is beautiful. He plays the broken man who has finally found a connection in his lost world so well, and he isn't a cocky Rochester which is great because liking him as a character is so much easier. He's just kind of desperate, and he seems like the one more attached in the relationship which gives Jane the power, an asset she has in print that makes her one of my favourite literary heroines; she doesn't realise just how strong she is. (It also doesn't hurt that he's downright gorgeous, seriously.)
As for Mia Wasikowska herself who plays Jane, just; bravo to the casting department because she is perfect. Quick and smart, and she brings a braveness to the role that always comes through in the novel but I have yet to see on screen. Her scenes with Fassbender are beautiful, and she is so unguarded around him that the relationship seems heavy and natural, a real force, rather than an infatuation as I've seen it appear so many times before.
The chemistry between Jane and Rochester on screen is just mesmerizing. This is probably one of the most, dare I say it...*sexy* adaptations of a classic. The scene after Rochester's bed is aflame is beautiful, the way they react to one another is so powerful, it's really beautiful to watch. Also when Jane is gone from Thornfield and living with the Rivers, she hears Rochester calling for her from the air, it's like she can feel his spirit; so beautiful to watch.
As for the rest of the cast, they're just as wonderful. Dame Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax is great, and Jamie Bell is a convincing St. John (There's even a sneaky appearance from Georgiana Darcy!)
Overall, just a beautiful film, and one I can see coming very close behind my beloved 2005 Pride & Prejudice as favourite classic adaptation. If you've not seen this version yet I definitely recommend you do so.