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Friday, April 8, 2011

Movie Review: JANE EYRE


Jane Eyre is a 2011 drama directed by Cary Fukunaga. It's an adaptation of the 1847 Charlotte Brontë novel of the same name. The film mostly plays through flashbacks as the titular character (Mia Wasikowska) remembers how her life progressed and how she found herself in the stead of a young priest named St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his two sisters. The audience learns that Jane was placed in an all-girls home after her aunt accused her of being a liar, and the time she spends in the institution hardens her resolve. Upon leaving the home, Jane finds work as a governess at Thornfield Hall, home to a mysterious Edward Fairfax Rochester (Michael Fassbender), where she takes to teaching Rochester's French-speaking daughter. Eventually, Rochester returns home and meets Jane; he soon takes a liking to her, and the pair go back-and-forth with their affections and their loyalties. As time progresses, however, the feelings they have for one another cannot be withheld. Unfortunately, it turns out that Rochester may have a secret or two hidden deep within the walls of his eerie mansion estate...

I was originally drawn to this film for two reasons. The first reason stems from the fact that I actually acted in my high school theater department's rendition of Jane Eyre during my junior year. Although I only had bit roles here and there, I still remember my few scenes on-stage (although I never could tell you the storyline for the life of me). The second reason I wanted to see this film was for director Cary Fukunaga. It's only his second feature-length directorial effort, but I absolutely loved his first one (2009's Sin Nombre), so I figured I'd give him another shot and see if he was just a one-hit wonder, so to speak. While Jane Eyre doesn't quite reach the power than Sin Nombre possessed, I'd have to say that Fukunaga could be a director to watch in the future.

I had a couple of issues with the film, but nothing was terribly pressing. The screenplay works well, and it offers a good look at the ups and downs of the love between Jane and Rochester. I wouldn't say it provides twists and turns, but there's definitely little tweaks here and there for those unfamiliar with the storyline. It's a very effective dramatic romance, but I felt like the story moved a little too slowly for my personal tastes. The two-hour flick seemed like it dragged on for a lot longer than that, and it was difficult for me to maintain my interest throughout its entirety. One of my biggest beefs with movies is when they can't hook me from the start, and Jane Eyre never entirely hooked me. I've seen snails move faster than this one.

That being said, we actually get a pretty good acting ensemble in the flick. Wasikowska is starting to stamp herself as one of the better young leading ladies on the Hollywood scene. If you haven't seen her work, you don't have to look far: she starred as the titular character in 2010's Alice in Wonderland and played a semi-lead in 2010's The Kids Are All Right. Look for her to make a splash with awards season in the coming years. Michael Fassbender, who has quickly become one of my favorite actors, also does well with his role as Rochester, but I think he's a little upstaged by Wasikowska. We've also got a decent performance by Dame Judi Dench in a supporting role, but she isn't given much reign with the character. Overall, the acting is quite good - at least, it's better than the average fare you'll find in cinemas at any given time.

At the end of the day, Jane Eyre is a decent dramatic romance flick that will definitely appeal to my female readers more than it did for myself. Up until the minute before the movie started, I was the only guy in the theater, so you can tell who the target demographic probably is. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it; it's a good movie that just moved a little too slow for my own tastes, but that doesn't mean you won't love it (if you're into some romance).

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B-
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