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If Little Orphan Annie Dabbled in Gothic Themes

Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)
Summary: A governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret.
Spoilers: none

Brought to life by poet and author Charlotte Brontë, this Gothic novel-made-movie is more than a strong social commentary and feminist statement on women and a social critique of the misogynism of the time (1820s); in this, its present form (which happens to be one in a long line of remakes of the 19th century work), Jane Eyre is a stellar film.

Jane played by Mia Wasikowska who was a perfect choice for the role, as a mousy, 18-year-old, plain but pretty girl who puts her education to use by taking to a governess-ship after a bleak and bitter childhood. Jane meets “Rochester” (Michael Fassbender), her business-minded employer and the two fall in love before Jane learns a terrible secret about her man.

Fans of the novel may differ on how well the details are brought to life, but brought to life they are, and in stirring and unexpected ways. Unlike the novel, the presentation style of the film is non-linear, which may not be to the liking of some viewers. But for those looking for a fine romance film with restraining suspense and suppressed passions, not many will find it a disappointment. The careful direction on the part of Fukunaga is most notable in her handling of the story, a story full of jarring twists and turns that keep the viewer in utter amazement from the subtle lead-ons of the details.

The path that this movie dares to tread is one that explores its content in some very exotic and risky places. Jane Eyre has elements of horror, drama, and romance, which may prove too much for more conventional viewers, but you’ll have to look long and hard to find a movie as effective at drawing out emotions as this one, with its ability to turn on a dime from repulsing to attracting – or else stupefying – its viewers as a stand-alone achievement that defies expectations.

With Jamie Bell putting on a particularly fascinating portrayal of “St. John Rivers,” these performances are top-notch, and in a movie that will etch a mark in every viewer. 4 stars for the brilliant and bedazzling, Jane Eyre.

(JH)

Grade: A+ (4 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for some thematic elements including a nude image and brief violent content)
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: “Jane Eyre” (Mia Wasikowska), “St John Rivers” (Jamie Bell), “Hannah” (Su Elliot), “Rochester” (Michael Fassbender), “Diana Rivers” (Holiday Grainger), “Mrs. Fairfax” (Judi Dench)
Genre: Drama / Romance
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