Jane Eyre

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with Jane Eyre running away from Thornfield Hall in the middle of the night and finding herself alone on the moors, in the pouring rain. She manages to reach the doorstep of Moor House, the home of Mr. St. John Rivers, a clergyman, and his two sisters. They take Jane in, saving her life.

There follows a flashback, to the ten-year-old Jane Eyre, an orphan, living with her maternal uncle’s family, the Reeds, at Gateshead. Jane’s aunt, Sarah Reed, doesn’t like Jane and is very cruel to her; Mrs. Reed’s three children are also abusive towards her. One day, Jane is locked in the Red Room, where her uncle died, and which Jane believes is haunted. She knocks herself unconscious on the door, after a huge puff of smoke comes down the chimney. Jane’s aunt sends her to Lowood School for Girls, which is run by a cruel clergyman, Mr. Brocklehurst. Mrs Reed tells him that Jane is a deceitful child and is not to be trusted. Jane tells her aunt how much she hates her and that she is a hard-hearted woman.

Jane arrives at Lowood. While another pupil, Helen Burns, is being beaten, Jane accidentally drops her tray. Mr. Brocklehurst brands her a liar and makes her stand on a chair all day. Jane and Helen become close friends, but Helen later dies of typhus.

Eight years later, Jane leaves Lowood and takes up a post with Alice Fairfax of Thornfield Hall. She will be a governess to Adele Varens, a young French orphan girl. When she first arrives at Thornfield, a gloomy, isolated mansion, Jane mistakes Mrs. Fairfax for her employer, but she finds out that she is only the housekeeper for her absent master. While Jane is walking into town to post a letter, a horse passes her and throws its rider. Jane helps the gentleman to his horse. Later, back at the mansion, she learns that the horse rider is Edward Rochester, master of the house. He jokingly tells her that she must have bewitched his horse to make him fall. They gradually fall in love with one another.

One night, Jane is awoken by a strange noise at her door, only to find that Mr. Rochester’s room is on fire, which the two of them manage to extinguish. He thanks her for saving his life and holds her hand affectionately. The next day, Rochester leaves Thornfield to visit Lady Blanche Ingram, his future wife; he brings her back to Thornfield with him a few weeks later. When a man named Richard Mason of Spanish Town, Jamaica, shows up, Jane can see that Rochester is disturbed. That night, a scream awakens everyone. Rochester assures his guests it is just a servant’s reaction to a nightmare, but after they go back to their rooms, he secretly has Jane tend to a bleeding Mason while he fetches a doctor. Rochester has the doctor take Mason away.

Jane receives a letter from her old nurse, Bessie. Jane’s cousin, John Reed, has committed suicide, the news of which has so shocked his mother, Sarah Reed, that it has brought on a stroke. Apparently, Mrs. Reed has been asking to see Jane. Jane returns to Gateshead, where her dying aunt shows her a letter from Jane’s paternal uncle, John Eyre, asking for her to go to live with him in Madeira. He wants to adopt Jane and bequeath her at his death. Jane notices that the letter was dated three years ago. Mrs. Reed admits to telling her uncle that Jane had died of typhus at Lowood School. She tells Jane that she (Mrs. Reed) has been cursed by her. Jane forgives her aunt and returns to Thornfield, having begun a correspondence with John Eyre.

Jane informs Rochester that she must leave Thornfield due to his impending marriage to Blanche Ingram. However, Rochester suddenly proclaims his love for Jane and proposes to her; they kiss passionately. However, during the wedding ceremony, Mr. Mason appears, along with a lawyer, declaring that Mr. Rochester cannot marry Jane, because he is still married to Mr. Mason’s sister, Bertha; he adds that his sister is still living at Thornfield Hall. Mr. Rochester admits this is true and takes Jane to meet his wife, calling her his own demon; they find her locked away in a room at Thornfield. Rochester tells Jane that his father wanted him to marry Bertha for her money. Once they were married, he discovered that she was rapidly descending into madness and was forced to lock her away in Thornfield; she was the one responsible for the strange happenings in the house. Refusing to go against her principles, and despite her love for Rochester, Jane leaves Thornfield in the middle of the night.

After Jane regains her health, St. John finds her a teaching position at a nearby charity school. One night, St. John appears, informing her that her uncle, John Eyre, has died, leaving her all his property and that she is rich, to the tune of 20,000 pounds. Jane offers to share the money with St. John and his sisters, suggesting that they live together at Moor house; they agree to the offer. St. John asks Jane to marry him and go with him to India. Jane agrees to go to India with him, but rejects the marriage proposal, suggesting that they travel as brother and sister, as that’s how she sees their relationship. On the moor, Jane suddenly hears Rochester’s voice calling her name.

Jane returns to Thornfield, only to find the house a blackened ruin. She learns from Mrs. Fairfax that Rochester’s wife set the house on fire and died, jumping from the roof. Jane finds Rochester, but in the rescue attempt he has lost his eyesight. Jane reunites with him and they embrace.

REVIEW:

I am known to criticize films that are heavy drama and artsy-fartsy, and yet here I am watching Jane Eyre, a film that fits both those categories to a ‘T’. By the times the credits roll, will I be bored to tears, surprised with how good it is, or just plain disappointed?

What is this about?

Driven from her post at Thornfield House by her love for her brooding employer and his secret past, young governess Jane Eyre reflects on her youth and the events that led her to the misty moors in this artful adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel.

What did I like?

Cast. Fassbender and Wasikowska shine in these roles. Wasikowska’s work I’m not too familiar with, other than the few films she’s done over here in the states, mainly Alice in Wonderland, but Fassbender has more than proven that he is capable of pulling off roles of substance on both sides of the pond. Leave us not forget Judi Dench, who seems to be the comic relief (if you can call her that).

Source material. I vaguely remember reading this novel once, I belive it was in British Literature, but I could be mistaken. From my recollection, everything seems to be in order. Sure, there are some changes, but those are mainly due to time constraints and/or things that would not work so well on the big screen. Still, I give kudos to whomever decided it was best to keep this as close as possible to the source material and not try to make some weird “hip” updating so that audiences will “relate”.

What didn’t work?

Time. Speaking of time constraints, maybe it is just me, but I felt as if this could have been a slightly longer film, like most flicks like this tend to be. I’m not saying it needed to be some 3 hr long snoozefest, but parts of it felt like they rushed through some parts and others felt like they hovered in the scene too long.

French. The little French girl was a great asset to the cast, but after about the halfway point of the film, she sort of disappeared. I seem to remember her being in the later parts of the book, so why did she just vanish from the film? Maybe I’m wrong about the novel, though.

Jane Eyre isn’t my cup of tea, admittedly, and as such, I don’t feel as if I can give this film the review it deserves. Having said that, I do think that there is an audience out there that is all about this period dramas. If this is the kind of film you tend to go for, then by all means, check this out. You will love it. If you’re like me, then chances are you’re more likely to be bored. That is ok, different stroked for different folks.

4 out of 5 stars

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