Thursday, September 08, 2011

Movie review: Jane Eyre (2011)

Consider this an addendum to this post about all the versions of Jane Austen movies and Jane Eyre ever (recently) made.

So, the new Jane Eyre. First, what were its strengths?

Well, it is very loyal to the book - shockingly so, considering it's only two hours long. I could definitely get behind the idea of Magneto as Mr. Rochester, though it took some getting used to. I like how the movie isn't afraid to portray St. John as the pompous jerk he kind of is, instead of a viable love interest. The scenes at the Reeds' house and at Lowood are spooky and oppressive - there is no Miss Temple here and Helen Burns hardly lightens the dark mood of the beginning of the movie. I didn't mind that diversion from the book. I thought it helped the movie be even a little scary, which actually ended up making it more like the book (even as its details technically strayed away from it during that part).

Now, for the weaknesses.

It is loyal to the book, but it is also a little perfunctory. You want a scene of Jane and Mr. Rochester engaging in witty repartee? Here you go. The requisite Blanche-ridiculing-governesses scene? Check. And so on. I know the movie had a lot to get through in two hours but it was rendered almost without care soon after Jane's arrival at Thornfield. Jane and Mr. Rochester have all of about two scenes together before she saves him from burning to death in his bed, and then we're supposed to be moved when they almost kiss? Sorry movie, you have to work harder than that, even if it IS Magneto we're talking about.

Also, the movie gives away the ending by treating the main story arc as a flashback. We know from the very beginning that Jane's marriage to Mr. Rochester has gone horribly wrong, and I didn't like having that suspense taken away from me. Part of the attraction of the book is that it lets you hope against hope that things are going to work out all right for poor Jane, which makes the disappointment of the never-wedding all the more bitter. Here, we had it handed it to us in the first five minutes and thereby rendered meaningless.

But I'm making it sound like I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. I will almost certainly enjoy any production of Jane Eyre to some degree. I was disappointed, though. My favorite version remains the 4-hour Masterpiece production from 2006, and that's the final verdict...

...until they make another one in a few years, right?

2 comments:

Lark said...

I agree 100%. This version really left me wanting...I think for more scenes with Jane and Rochester developing their friendship (like you mentioned). Its really important for the story and there was just not enough...
Also, it ends in a blackout...really? A blackout for Jane Eyre? Not appropriate. And, Rochester was a little too scruffy at the end. I know he goes blind and lets himself go, but that was BAD in the make-up/wardrobe dept.
I agree with you about the beginning. Its like they couldn't think of a creative way to make this version different from the others, so they did a flash-forward. Didn't work. It was just a waste of time, since we see the scene again 1/2 through the show.

And yes, the 2006 version is also my favorite. No contest.

Bridget said...

Hahahaha, I actually mentioned the Hobo Mr. Rochester specifically in this post, but then cut that part out. I totally agree! It was just too much.

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