Saturday 15 June 2024

Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Genre: Romantic Mystery Drama  
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga  
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Imogen Poots  
Running Time: 120 minutes  

Synopsis: In 1800s England, a distressed Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) leaves the Thornfield Hall estate of Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender) and finds shelter with clergyman St. John (Jamie Bell). In flashbacks, Jane's story is revealed. She was an orphan when her evil aunt Mrs. Reed (Sally Hawkins) dispatched her to a grim residential school. Upon graduation, she became the governess at Thornfield, where she met kindly housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) and gradually fell in love with the passionate, brooding, and wealthy Rochester. But he not only harbours a dark secret, but may also be interested in marrying Blanche Ingram (Imogen Poots).

What Works Well: Writer Moira Buffini adapts Charlotte Brontë's classic novel with elegance, and packs Jane Eyre's many adventures into a brisk two hours. Drama, romance, mystery, danger, and passion mingle as Jane navigates each hurdle on her own terms, never losing sight of her worth and the basics of right and wrong. The central romance may lack sizzle but is held together by shadows of tragic pasts, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga relies on candlelight to emphasize mystery-filled interiors loaded with the presence of the unseen. Adriano Goldman's cinematography makes excellent use of the rugged and windswept English countryside. 

What Does Not Work As Well: Jane and Edward progress from verbal sparring to thorny romance in a hurry, and as Rochester's notional counterpart, Jamie Bell struggles to find the right tone as St. John.

Conclusion: This quest for happiness goes through foreboding chambers.

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