Jane Eyre 2011 Film Review

The second LeedsBookClub film trip – our first being Alice in Wonderland.

(Apologies for how late I am getting this up. I actually started it an aaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggeeeeeeeeeee ago and became totally distracted by non-essential nonsense like work…and life…)

It was a lovely day out that ended – predictably enough – at the pub. Here we analysed, discussed and opinionated over a pint/glass of wine.

Far more important than the film itself, was the opportunity for some book club bonding (that’s bonding…NOT bondage!).
It was great to meet outside of the book club environment and I look forward to hopefully repeating this exercise in the not-so-distant future! Especially as some enthusiastic members were sadly unable to make it on this occasion.

Right. To the film.

The Good

This is my far the most visually orientated Jane Eyre I’ve ever seen. The countryside; house; lighting – these all contributed towards creating a highly atmospheric film.

The casting seemed fairly spot on. Jane was a young woman with old eyes – exactly as she needed to be – wonderfully portrayed by Mia Wasilkowska.  
Rochester…well…he isn’t my Rochester (that would be Toby Stevens from the 2004 BBC version) but Irish actor Michael Fassbender portrayed a very authentic version of our grumpy anti-hero. Sexy, moody, sexy, occasionally downright grouchy, sexy…

Judy Dench brought a warmth and humanity to Mrs Fairfax that was so very engaging. She only has one or two lines not in the original novel, but they make her character very three dimensional – and so much kinder than her literary counterpart. Worth her weight in gold is that one!

Adele was a little charmer. Far more believeable and less silly than previous versions, resulting in Rochester being a litle less cruel, a little more humourous and a little less mean in calling her names to her face. 

Non-linear story telling – I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Strictly speaking, I’ve never been one of those people who insist on a film version being totally faithful to the book, but it did throw me a tad.
The emphasis is never truly on Jane’s horrible childhood or the recuperation period with the Rivers family – it is always on the time spent with Rochester. Which is actually as it should be. (shhhh, don’t tell anyone I just said that…)

The Bad

Sometimes it’s so atmospheric (read dark) that you couldn’t make out what was happening on the screen without doing that squinty thing.

The accents.
I’m not English, so when I’m aware that an accent is wobbiling a bit or more than a bit…well, it was all very annoying to the actual Yorkshire people I was there watching it with. Which was sort of refreshing. I’m usually the one loudly grousing about accents!

Every now and again – not all the time – just for a second here and there – it get a teensy bit dull. Which is a shame.
It’s also practically impossible to do with this book. So, bad film makers, bad! Hang heads in shame!!

The Ugly

While I loved the look of Billy Elliot…sorry…Jamie Bell as St-John Rivers; I HATED the way they characterised him. Rivers was not tied by his emotions in the book, but he HAD some.
In this version, St-John is not only cold; he is judgemental and zealot like terrifying. He seems to be driven by a sort of anger or rage that was totally out of place for me.
At one point, it looked like he was going to strike Jane. There was an aura of violence from this character I found very very very very NOT JANE EYRE AT ALL,NOT EVEN A LITTLE TINY BIT.

They cut SOOOO much out. I appreciate that they have to change bits here and there, but it was heartbreaking how much was discarded here.  

I guess, the film was all just a bit too restrained. While the romantic passion was evident; other aspects felt very buttoned down. It’s all so…polite.

Our Verdict

Overall we really enjoyed it, but there were definately some touches that rubbed us up the wrong way.


Settle an argument here – I’ve often been criticised for liking Rochester.
He is after all a Very Bad Man. One who locked his wife in the attic and kept her a secret and wandered about the place consorting with All Sorts.

See, I’ve always had this idea that it wasn’t until he moved back full time after he adopted/took on Adele that the missus ended up in the ‘hidden’ wing.
Prior to that I believe that she would have had the run of the place. OR that she did until she started becoming a danger to herself and to others.
I thought that this film really made it feel like this was the case – especially in relation to Mrs Fairfax comments to Jane. What do you reckon?

Watch the trailer here:


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