Movie Review: Jane Eyre

PhotobucketJane Eyre is my favorite book. And I’m not saying “oh it’s definitely on my top 100 list” type of favorites either. Jane Eyre is my favorite book of all time of all books ever written. Hands down. The irony is that the book I absolutely depise – yes, even hate – in the entire English language is Wuthering Heights written by Charlotte Brontë’s sister – Emily Brontë. How can 2 sisters write such radically different books?

At any rate I have read Jane Eyre about once every year or two since I discovered it at 15. Matter of fact it’s coming up on my “To Read” list very soon (only have 3 books to get through first…) as it’s been awhile since I last visited it. I can’t say I can quote from the book (I can’t quote from much, favorite or not) but I do know the story very well, better than the Wikipedia page sums up at any rate. It’s been called a feminist book and I agree with it. Very few literary works (prior to the late 1800s that is) allow the female characters to own who they are. Very few have anything but a woman that needs saving. And very few have opinionated women which the male characters respect. Jane Eyre possesses all of these traits. Allowing the characters to be true human beings with true responses and not just 2 dimensional caricatures I think is what appeals to me about this book the most. Mr. Darcy (“Pride & Prejudice”) has nothing on Rochester even when portrayed by Colin Firth!

What all this means is that I have seen every adaption of this book ever made. Yes, every adaption as of yesterday. That is when I was (FINALLY!) able to screen the latest which has been classified as an independent and is pretty much only being released to small theaters. Omaha hadn’t been showing it until now when our local art theater finally got it in. Thank god for my boyfriend’s mother as she was the one who spotted it, told me and even took me to see it as I might not have known about it otherwise.

I was throughly satisfied with this adaption. More so than any of the others actually. Part of that was the phenomenal acting of Mia Wasikowska (as Jane Eyre) and Michael Fassbender (as Rochester). Part of it was the accuracy of the spoken lines and story flow. And part of it was the visuals.

First the acting. Superb. Absolutely superb. Mia was the strong woman that Jane is, even given her lot in life. And Michael portrayed Rochester with all the bad boy edge that makes you want to slap Rochester then jump his bones. The casting was perfect in my opinion.

The accuracy of book-to-movie adaptions always bother me. You can not convey in a movie what can be conveyed in a book, nevermind the length of any book turned movie and what must be cut. Some of the worst books make the best movies and vice versa. Take any of the “Harry Potter” series. The movies are brilliant to watch. The story envelopes you. But of course the books are better. There are scenes that can not be adequately displayed on screen, if they even make it in. It’s just a truth. Likewise some of the worst writers (ahem *Twilight* ahem) indeed are probably better fodder for the screen.

Jane Eyre has all of these problems as well. In this 2011 version they chose to leave out a bunch of things but most notably her childhood. Yes they hit the highlights so you knew where she was coming from, what she had endured but a lot of it was put aside. For example the instance of the school cutting Helen Burns red curly hair. This was left out. It only shows how strong willed Jane is and I’m throughly disappointed it didn’t make into the film. The pace of the movie was substantially better than in previous adaptions though (I’m looking at you BBC!). As they don’t explain the time line very well it felt rushed. My only other complaint is that they do not emphasis the “horror” aspects like they should have. It has some very scary moments written in it’s pages and they just aren’t played up enough for me.

I also enjoyed the fact that they introduced the Rivers family at the beginning and incorporated Jane’s childhood as flashbacks. Had they stuck to the book it would have made a more difficult storyline and interrupted the flow. Definitely an improvement and we get to know the Rivers a little bit more.

Historical dress is not my strong suit as I don’t know as much as I would like to. I can’t imagine teaching or studying historical dress for a living and having to watch historical movies – the inaccuracies would drive me up a wall. But it does seem to be spot on from what little I do know. The one thing that stuck out at me more than any other was that all the women in the movie wore wrist warmers, not the additional sleeves that were indeed very popular but wrist warmers. They seem to be historically accurate in their portrayal but I was surprised to see them as you usually don’t. Vanity Fair recently did a story highlighting the lovely costumes, including photos of those wrist warmers! I will not be surprised if this movie is nominated, and wins, an Oscar for costumes.

Locations also seemed to be rather good. The visuals were rather close to how I have always imagined they should be.

As a result I’m not disappointed in this adaption at all. On the contrary I quite enjoyed it and I’m happy they didn’t ruin my favorite book once again. If you get a chance to see it please do! You will not be disappointed!