The filmmakers of ‘Jane Eyre’ state they have brought a bold, contemporary immediacy to Charlotte Bronte’s romantic drama, which is a mighty claim but, unfortunately, not true. It’s a competently produced period piece but offers nothing new and, as there have already been nearly thirty adaptations of this book, do we really need another?
When Jane (Mia Wasikowska) is orphaned she is adopted by her uncle and treated well, but when he dies she is left to the mercy of her callous aunt (Sally Hawkins), who banishes her to an austere boarding school. To escape from her intense loneliness Jane begins sketching, which helps her survive and when her education is complete, she goes to work as a governess at Thornfield Castle. She develops a spiritual connection with her employer, Mr Rochester (Michael Fassbender), and their romance slowly blossoms, but then Jane discovers the man she adores is already married and his wife lives hidden in a secluded part of the castle.
The story moves along at a swift enough pace and, although there is far too much dialogue, verbosity is practically expected in historical dramas. The characters are quite well drawn and Judy Dench, the housekeeper, gives us a smattering of humor which is sorely needed as the air of gloom is unwavering throughout, even when Mr Rochester courts his engaging young governess.
What doesn’t work at all in this film are the flashbacks. The story is thrown around and interrupts the emotional journey of the brave little girl as she battles her way to adulthood, finds peace, endures heartache, makes her escape and is finally rewarded with happiness. If the director thought the story wasn’t strong enough to be told in linear style, he should have done something more with the script – perhaps made it into something bold or contemporary?
A present day Jane Eyre would be most appealing. She could be taken from her crack addict mother by social services and placed in care, where her therapist encourages her to focus her energies on something creative. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, all Jane can get her hands on are some old tins of spray paint but this puts her in touch with her inner graffiti artist and, when she uploads her ‘Jane On The Job’ video to her Fan Page she gets nine million new friends. Mark Zuckerberg, who’s just sold half his Facebook shares, is so impressed he employs her to graffiti the wall of his new mansion and, pretty soon, the two are having a lot of sex. Unfortunately, his fiance finds out and she hacks into Mark’s html codes and crashes the entire Facebook website, making ‘Jane Eyre’ into a true 21st Century tragedy.
USA – 11 March 2011
Estonia – 18 March 2011
Germany – 8 September 2011
UK – 9 September 2011
Sweden – 7 October 2011