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JANE EYRE (2011)

Governess Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) suddenly runs away from Thornfield Hall, where she has been teaching the young French ward of the master of the house – the foreboding Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Local clergyman St John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his family give her shelter and help her as she looks back on events that have made her run away. It was at the age of 10 that the orphaned Jane (Amelia Clarkson) is thrown out of her home by her cruel aunt Mrs Reed (Sally Hawkins), before enduring a troubled education at a charity school. It is as a teenager that she arrives at Thornfield, where she is greeted with kindness by the housekeeper Mrs Fairfax (Judi Dench). But she is both puzzled and fascinated by the often ill-tempered Mr Rochester until she discovers his dark secret.

Review by Louise Keller:
In this age of internet dating and de facto relationships, the emotionally restrained world of Charlotte Bronte’s 19th century Jane Eyre may seem as foreign as another planet. So it is crucial for the filmmakers to draw the audience into the claustrophobic, solitary world of a young governess whose corset exemplifies the nature of her restricted life.

Acclaimed director Cary Fukunaga brings his vision to Moira Buffini’s screenplay, which while faithful to Bronte’s 1847 novel, has in part changed the story’s structure. The resulting fine film envelopes us with the power of its imagery and sombre mood as we learn the fate of the young girl with the direct gaze.

There’s a chilly mist above the infinitely bleak moors as Jane Eyre (Wasikowska) runs away from Thornfield Hall, the gloomy Estate where the story begins. We are not sure from what she is running, but her distress is clear when offered unfamiliar kindness by a clergyman (Bell). In flashback we learn what how Jane, a vulnerable orphan, becomes governess to the young French ward of Thornfield’s tempestuous master, Edward Rochester (Fassbender).

Wasikowska is utterly believable as the innocent teenage governess, while Fassbender is perfectly cast as the ill-tempered, unpredictable Rochester who confides in Jane and harbours a dark secret. Their relationship is filled with tension and unpredictability. Judi Dench is a welcome presence as the kindly housekeeper.

There’s a genuinely creepy feeling about the dark corridors of the austere Thornfield, where candles flicker ominously and the sounds of crying at night can be mistaken for the howling wind. The production design is exquisite; it is easy to become emotionally lost in this all-encompassing reality where moral codes and social class determine the fate and life of its characters.

Fukunaga has revitalised Bronte’s story, making it fresh and vital, while retaining its authenticity and tone.
First Published in the Sun-Herald

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JANE EYRE (2011) (PG)
(UK, 2011)

CAST: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Su Elliott, Judi Dench, Imogen Poots, Sally Hawkins, Tamzin Merchant, Craig Roberts, Freya Wilson, Jayne Wisener

PRODUCER: Alison Owen, Paul Trijbits

DIRECTOR: Joji Fukunaga

SCRIPT: Moira Buffini (based on novel by Charlotte Brontë)


EDITOR: Melanie Oliver

MUSIC: Dario Marianelli


RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes



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