Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements, including a nude image and brief violent content
Released in Theaters: March 11, 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance, Based on a Book
Runtime: 120 minutes
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell, Holliday Grainger, Sally Hawkins, Judi Dench, Michael Fassbender
Official Site: http://janeeyrethemovie.com/
SYNOPSIS: Based on the classic novel by Charlotte Bronte, ‘Jane Eyre’ tells the story of a young girl who suffers a bleak childhood, then takes a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There she meets the dark, cold, abrupt master Mr. Rochester, and soon finds herself in a budding friendship and romance Â until his terrible secret threatens to destroy it forever.
Sex/Nudity: Passionate hugs and kisses between a young woman and her older employer. Brief images of a naked woman in a painting.
Violence/Gore. A teenage boy hits a young girl with a book, and she lunges at him. A young girl is emotionally abused by her relatives and at boarding school. A stern headmaster makes her stand on a chair all day and encourages her classmates to shun her. Talk of a character committing suicide, jumping to her death from a building. A character suffers a bloody wound to his mid-section.
Drugs/Alcohol: Era-appropriate social drinking at dinners and gatherings.
Which Kids Will Like It? Fans of Charlotte Bronte, the original novel, or romantic dramas set in 19th century England.
Will Parents Like It? It’s an endearing story with gorgeously bleak landscapes and architecture. The PG-13 rating is on target, although if your 13-year-old is easily spooked or feels injustices deeply, best to wait a year or two.
REVIEW: ‘Jane Eyre’ had a limited release in March, and I’ve been impatiently awaiting its debut in Northern Michigan. It finally arrived last week, and it was worth the wait. I confess, I haven’t read the book by Charlotte Bronte, so had to email a friend later and ask if that’s how the book ended. Yes, but the book was richer and more intense, she said. That’s usually the case. Still, the movie doesn’t disappoint.
It’s bleak, though, so you have to look beyond Jane’s tragic childhood and savor the gloomy story of complicated love. As the film begins, we learn that young Jane (played by Amelia Clarkson) lost both her parents and is living with a stern relative (Sally Hawkins) and her family. They treat Jane horribly, and she’s finally sent to a boarding school that’s more like a prison. More bleakness ensues, as the headmaster humiliates Jane for supposedly misbehaving.
But things start to turn around as Jane gets older (played by soulful Mia Wasikowska) and is hired as the governess at dreary Thornfield Hall, where Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench) manages the household. The master of the house, Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) is cold, abrupt and mysterious, but has an instant connection with Jane.
Rochester is also hiding a dark secret, and once Jane realizes what it is, she flees the residence, despite their budding romance. She stumbles across an overcast, rainy landscape, finally landing exhausted on the doorstep of St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) and his sisters.
‘Jane Eyre’ is rated PG-13, and rightly so. Wayward children were not treated kindly in those days, and we see Jane abused physically and emotionally, although her spirit never waivers. Wasikowska portrays a young lady determined not to allow the cruelties in her life oppress her spirit, and much of that is shown through her facial expressions and the way she carries herself. It’s a good example Â almost feminist in nature -- of making the best of a bad situation. Still, the whole story made me grateful for having grown up in a kind family during the 20th century.
Wasikowska also has some nice chemistry with Fassbender, whose Rochester is vital and manly, as shown in his first meeting with Jane, where she accidentally spooks his horse and he hurtles to the ground.
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga favors a gothic approach to the story, and it’s dark, mysterious and sometimes spooky. If this was a TV series on The CW, we’d no doubt see a vampire or werewolf somewhere in the mix. And the locations are stunningly gloomy; filming took place in Derbyshire, England at places with romantic names like Chatsworth House, Darley Dale, Stanage Edge, and The Fox House.
The bottom line is even if you haven’t read Charlotte Bronte’s novel or know much that era, ‘Jane Eyre’ is a glorious feast for the eyes, soul and heart. And it’s darn good storytelling.
JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM:
One Reel Â Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels Â Coulda been a contender
Three Reels Â Something to talk about.
Four Reels Â You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels Â Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.