Plot: A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret
I haven’t seen a worse plot description in my life on IMDb. “A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret” – really? That is all they have to say about one of classical literature’s finest novels? Okay then. My review of the novel Jane Eyre should have alerted you already that I’d been lit up with fervor for this story, and I obsessively searched for a copy of the movie to see if it would hold up with my hopes. In fairness, the movie is now seven years old, so procuring a copy was no easy task. I eventually ordered one online and had to wait two whole weeks for delivery.
The 2011 version of Jane Eyre is fantastic, and very much what I wanted the movie to be. Mia Wasikowska is a fantastic Jane Eyre – she nails the passion of Jane so well. At first glance, Jane appears to be a mousy, plain girl who was lucky to receive an education. The viewer is naturally privy to more information – she was mishandled by her only relatives and her school was a strict and harsh environment. Yet Jane has an amazing capacity to care, noted when she takes care of her charge in Mr. Rochester’s home. Adele (Romy Settbon) is a French oddity in the prudish British countryside, and while the movie briefly references that she might be Mr. Rochester’s illegitimate child, the book illustrates better the responsibility Mr. Rochester unwillingly feels for her.
Michael Fassbender might be a bit too handsome for Mr. Rochester – in the book he is described as distinctly un-handsome (i.e. ugly) – but for intensity he is a fantastic choice for Mr. Rochester. The levels of the man – his harshness and anger towards the world and the façade he can give his more elite guests make him a really intriguing man. I would have liked it had they included his scene as the beggar woman, because it adds another level to his character – a shrewdness to not be deceived.
Judi Dench gives an – unsurprisingly – good performance as Mrs. Fairfax – her nervousness in keeping her master happy and the protectiveness she feels towards the inhabitants of the manor.
Jamie Bell is very convincing as St. John Rivers, and he makes the character more likeable than I found him in the book. St. John Rivers remains a really interesting character to consider, because he is on first glance the male replica of Jane – stern, middle class, quite plain, but further inspection reveals he has nothing of Jane’s passion and determination.
Jane Eyre is as dreary as its literary counterpart – incessant fog and rain makes the watcher feel as closed in as Jane must feel. I’ll definitely re-watch – it’s really good and made me miss the novel again. Again, I felt the movie could have included at least Mr. Rochester reclaiming sight in his one eye – the movie reunites the characters but with very little hope due to his poor condition.
Jane Eyre remains one of my favorite classical literatures. It is feminism at its finest origin – Jane’s determination to be an equal to Mr. Rochester. I have to delve deeper into this world – there is so much more to discover!