Jane Eyre (2011)–Movie Review

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4 Stars
Does the world need another adaptation of Jane Eyre? (Imdb.com lists 22 adaptations counting both movie and TV versions.) I’m not sure, but this one is pretty good.

It’s almost superfluous to describe the story, since anyone likely to be interested in the movie probably already knows it, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Jane (played as a child by Amelia Clarkson) is an orphan who was sent away to a brutal boarding school by her cold-hearted aunt (Sally Hawkins). Once she is grown (played by Mia Wasikowska) she finds a position as governess to a lonely French girl (Romy Settbon Moore) who lives in an foreboding isolated English country house. Only after several weeks does Jane meet the master of the house, Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender), a gruff and moody man but capable of great charm when he makes the attempt.

Fassbender’s performance is particularly notable. He makes Rochester seem utterly believable. It is easy to see why Jane finds him both fascinating and frightening. As one might expect, Judi Dench is absolutely perfect as Rochester’s well-meaning housekeeper.

Watching this I was struck by how much this resembles one of the “dramas” shown on Japanese television. To what extent were the conventions of Japanese shoujo literature influenced by 19th century European chick lit? Quite a lot actually. (It’s probably just a coincidence that the director, Cary Fukunaga, is an American of Japanese descent.)