Film Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

| 11 August , 2011 | Reply

Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
Staring: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Judi Dench
Sassi\’s star rating: 4/5

It was with a mixture of eagerness and anticipation that I first approached this film. Like many of you, Jane Eyre is a novel I\’ve always held close. I poured over its pages during high school, studied it diligently during university, and have spent many a rainy day since then acquainting myself with the dozens of film reincarnations. I can honestly say that Cary Fukunaga\’s 2011 Jane Eyre is one of the stand-outs.

Jane Eyre follows Charlotte Bronte\’s famous 1847 gothic novel of the same name. It tells of a young orphan, Jane (Wasikowska), who is cast aside from the care of her cruel aunt (Sally Hawkins) and sent away to a draconian college to gain an education. After nearly a decade at school, Jane accepts a position as governess of a young ward at the enigmatic Mr Rochester\’s (Michael Fassbender) Thornfield Estate. As Jane\’s friendship with the much older Rochester grows, so too do her feelings for him. But it soon becomes apparent that there is more then one reason why a union with her dark and brooding master would be a very bad idea.

Director of 2009\’s much-applauded Sin Nombre, Fukunaga has brought a darker vibe to his adaptation of the literary classic. He promised that he would be amplifying the gothic elements of the text and he succeeds in doing so without detracting from the intense romance. What results is a tangle of tangible romantic and sexual tension with moral duty; all captured through the eerie lens of masterful Director of Photography Adriano Goldman.

Young Australian starlet, Mia Wasikowska, does not buckle in her stoic performance of this persisting feminist icon. Stripped back and muted, she shows supreme talent in gently seeping Jane\’s more agreeable aspects through her austere veneer. While 2011\’s Jane is more restrained than some past imaginings, she is still in essence the Jane that many generations have come to love—in control, independent, and above all free thinking.


Wasikowska is matched superbly by the German born Michael Fassbender, who excels in his performance of a Byronic hero, offering an ideal mix of danger, passion, and control. Quite the act considering the string of Rochester\’s who have come before him (including notably Orson Wells).There are also secondary performances that shine, including Jamie Bell (the now grown up Billy Elliot) as St John and Judi Dench in her usual best as the housekeeper Mrs Fairfax.


At two hours long, Jane Eyre feels both perfectly timed and well paced but purists will likely bemoan the exclusion of certain details. For devotees and for those new to the story alike, Jane Eyre is a film worth watching. Brimming with excellent performances, enchanting cinematography, the right amount of romance, and even a few scares—there is a lot to keep you entertained.

Jane Eyre is in cinemas now.


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