Recommended for: Ages 15 to Adult
Rating: NR (but, um, it's Jane Eyre. It's not a kids' story.)
After a wretched childhood, orphaned Jane Eyre yearns for new experiences. She accepts a governess position at Thornfield Hall, where she tutors a lively French girl named Adele. She soon finds herself falling in love with the brooding master of the house--the passionate Mr. Rochester. Jane gradually wins his heart, but they must overcome the dark secrets of the past before they can find happiness.
I've wanted to see this version of Jane Eyre ever since I read the book several years ago. The movie we saw just wasn't satisfactory, and while the old BBC one seemed promising, it went off Netflix before we finished. But this one, it's a good one. Friends had told me it was good, the librarian who checked it out for me said it was the best one she'd seen, and my mom had really liked it back when it was on PBS, when we were little and so not allowed to watch it. (Though I did manage to see spoilers then, and so the book wasn't as mysterious as I might have liked.) But this was very well done.
It's been years since I read the book, so I can't say exactly how closely it follows, but it seemed to me to be fairly faithful. They do condense a lot, particularly the beginning, but it was already four hours long (though Bleak House was eight...). It moved along at a good pace with no boring parts. Mr. Rochester's house party, which I thought dragged on too long in the book, was even well paced. I was also pleased that they didn't omit Jane's relationship to St. John Rivers and his sisters as the movie I watched did. That was important, don't cut it for time. I mean, really. There was a bit more to that section in the book, but there was a bit more to all the sections in the book. It's kind of to be expected. The book is better. The book has more in it. Now, they did tone down Mr. Rochester's disfiguration at the end. He just had a bit of a scar on his face and was blind. In the book, his face had been badly burned and one eye was permanently shut, plus the fact that he lost a hand. They also omitted the fact that after two years he got his sight somewhat back. But still, a pretty faithful adaptation.
As far as clean goes, Adele's past isn't exactly, but while it looks like it might go off into an inappropriate scene, it doesn't. There are a few kissing scenes I didn't appreciate, but it's easily solved by staring at the wall since I don't recall there being anything wrong with the dialogue. The big spoiler in the middle...Jane made the right decision, I'll leave it at that.
The settings are all so...perfect for the story. Charlotte Bronte was a master writer. The settings give the proper gloomy, dark, mysterious air to the story, and they captured it well onscreen.
These characters. I really like Jane. Poor mistreated girl. Unloved. Unwanted. Unattractive. You pity her, but she's not really the type who wants to be pitied. She makes her own way in life. And even when she falls in love, things can't go smoothly. Though I realized I have no idea why anyone would fall in love with a man like Mr. Rochester. He's rude, he's grumpy, and at times he's actually kind of scary. And it's not a Mr. Darcy proud kind of rude (though I don't understand why people love him so much either, I'd go more for characters like Gilbert Blythe, well, Teddy Kent, actually, or Kristoff), it's a dark, secretive, brooding rude. But he was the first person to treat Jane like an equal, like a real human being with feelings, so I suppose that's why. And I do like the ending, it's just...I still don't understand falling for dark, mysterious men like Mr. Rochester.
Jane Eyre. It's a classic story. It is well beloved. And this is an excellent screen adaptation of that story.