Jane Eyre (2011) - my reluctant review

I've stated before how much I dislike writing reviews but in this case, I feel the need to add my two cents to the many reviews out there so that anyone who hasn't seen it yet might avoid the disappointment that I felt after having seen it.

Let me just say that when I heard they were planning an adaptation of Jane Eyre, my first reaction was that it was unnecessary and too soon after the 2006 series with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. As more information was provided by Focus Features (to excess in my opinion), I became more enthused about seeing the film with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. I was especially encouraged when I read some reviews from those who are avid fans of the book giving it a hearty thumbs up.

Perhaps it was because I ventured out to the theatre with such high expectations that it made it impossible for the film to match up to them. Was the film bad? Certainly not, it was a top notch production with beautiful cinematography and solid performances from Mia and Michael (and Judi Dench). But it failed to impress me as a whole. Some have mentioned that the film was too cut up with the scenes going back and forth in time. I didn't mind that for the most part as I realized the director had to try to fit in so much of the book's plot in the short time allotted for a feature film. And yet other times, these little snippets of scenes failed to capture enough of the plot or the character's emotions. One of my biggest frustrations were the long drawn out pauses which seemed an attempt to create a mood which I would have gladly traded away for more time spent on filling in the many holes left in the plot.

I can't help but compare it to the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice which had the same challenge of trying to cover so much detail in a short time. Although that film is not one of my top favoured period dramas, I think it did succeed in capturing the essence and spirit of its novel in the condensed time of a feature film.

I know there are plenty of people out there who have thoroughly enjoyed the new Jane Eyre, I just want to caution some of you that it might not be all you had hoped it would. And if you go see it, I hope that you will love it and feel free to disagree with me!


  1. I totally agree! Something just wasn't there like it was in the other adaptations. I also agree that it was not a terrible film, it just was not as good as i had hoped.

  2. I really enjoyed a different perspective. This film was not infused with as much gothic mist, and many scenes and characters were omitted, but I thought the brevity accentuated the story. The characters were well drawn and the chemistry between the leads palpable. Not perfect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. I'm sorry this new version of JE wasn't all you'd hoped. :/ Was it perfect? Nope...but gosh I loved it anyway. Thanks for all of the work you've done to help promote the film - here's my review if you're interested: http://booktalkandmore.blogspot.com/2011/04/jane-eyre.html :)

  4. Thanks for saying the things I felt about it. Some friends and I made a special trip to see it, and our reaction at the end was, "I...think...I liked it." There were a lot of things it did right; I thought the casting was great. It was incredibly hard to define what was missing. It just seemed a little stark. But I am willing to see it again sometime, maybe on DVD, and see if my opinion doesn't improve once I no longer have preconceived expectations!

  5. I haven't seen it yet, but I was glad to read this review! I think maybe I'll wait until it comes out on DVD to see it. Thanks!

  6. I really enjoyed the movie, but I agree with you. It was beautiful, but then went through it too fast. It didn't connect with me.

    If you are interested, my review is here:

  7. There are so many adaptations of JE that I just couldn't get too worked up over this one. Thanks for your honest review--the non-rave ones can be hard to do, but oh so necessary.

    I imagine I will watch this on DVD eventually, but other things take precedence.

  8. Hi, I just wanted to say hi. I look at your blog often and I love it. I love historical films and costumes. I love your gallery of historical wedding gowns.
    Mary Drennen

  9. For me, the worst part was the relationship between Jane and Rochester. Cutting the whole gypsy scene (and the part of the story leading up to it) eliminated much needed time to develop their relationship.

    Additionally, I didn't get a sense of any chemistry between the two leads. Jane Eyre needs chemistry.

  10. Totally agree Charlie!! I was really disappointed :( It was beautifully shot and the scenery and costumes were gorgeous...but it left something to be desired. With all the pauses and scenery shots I feel like they could have added more to the story but oh well.
    I was so excited to see it and I went with my mother who has never read the book or seen the movie. She was totally lost and did not like Jane and Mr. Rochester's relationship. Which is such a bummer. I will probably still buy it on dvd but I will recommend everyone to watch the 2006 vesion :)

  11. I know you said that you dont write reviews - but I think you should write more! I appreciate your honesty. I have never seen any adaptation of Jane Eyre - or any P&P so I would not have anything to compare it to! One for DVD by the sounds of it!

  12. Good review! :) I too felt that P&P'05 was too rushed. It didn't leave enough time for the romance to develop, so in the end it was just a "okay, and how and when did they fall in love?" There was no feeling of love beginning to grow, it was just two characters who were meant to get married in the end, so they did. So maybe this is the same kind of thing? A rushed version of a much better BBC miniseries?

    Still, it'll be fun to watch nonetheless. In SEPTEMBER. >_<

  13. Glad to hear from others that I'm not alone in my assessment! And yet, I don't want to dissuade anyone from going to the theatre to check it out for themselves!

    I read your review but have to say that I failed to be moved by Fassbender. Although he gave a solid performance, he didn't come close to Toby Stephens in my opinion but perhaps that was due to the film's brevity.

    Thanks! Glad that you drop by to visit!

    If you'd like to see Jane Eyre (2006), you can watch it on Youtube! http://youtu.be/2XsB22Qjz3A And I would heartily recommend the 1995 series of Pride & Prejudice - a beautiful classic!

    Actually, I wasn't saying that I found P&P ('05) to be rushed but that I thought Joe Wright did a fine job with the time that he had. It wasn't as complete as the '95 series obviously but it didn't feel as lacking in emotion as I felt with Fukunaga's Jane Eyre. Not an easy task I can imagine for any director which is why I prefer mini-series! I still can't believe you have to wait until September - so unfair, especially knowing how you're eager to see it!

  14. You've captured my reaction to the film very well. I'm realistic that a 2 hour film cannot encompass an entire novel but this one left out some of the most important parts.

    It's not a bad film but many scenes felt truncated to me. Nothing was allowed to play out or build any connection.

    This summed it up well. I've been saying the exact same thing. Too much mood, at the expense of characterization and story.

    One of my biggest frustrations were the long drawn out pauses which seemed an attempt to create a mood which I would have gladly traded away for more time spent on filling in the many holes left in the plot.

  15. I had seen a few scenes from the new Jane Eyre online which did not impress me at all. It was obvious there was no chemistry between the leads.
    If anyone wants to see a great Jane eyre, check out the Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clark version. (which is my personal favorite!)

  16. I look forward to the day when I can either agree or disagree with your review. The film still isn't available in my area. Your review has, however, made me less anxious to watch it.

  17. Thank you so much for posting this review! After having seen the preview, I really didn't think it was going to be worth seeing. Now I know that I can save the ten dollars and avoid it altogether. Thanks again! *^_^*

  18. Renee,
    My intent wasn't to dissuade anyone from watching the film in theatres but merely to caution that it might be found wanting. I still want people to decide for themselves and it seems that the reactions are mixed with some loving it and others like myself, finding it pretty but lacking sufficient plot development. But if you're not inclined to see it, then glad I could help clarify your decision.

    Hope it makes its way near you soon and knowing you, you'll appreciate it more than me!

  19. After seeing this new version, I remain convinced that the 2006 BBC version with Toby Stephens is THE greatest version out there! I enjoyed the 2011 movie but felt Rochester and Jane's relationship moved too quickly for the viewer to feel a connection with them. I didn't "feel" their passion even though the movie was toted as a passionate updated version. The chemistry and affection between Rochester and Jane occurs throughout the entire 2006 version: from their very first encounter, all the way to the conclusion and even when they are separated! Toby Stephens epitomizes Edward Rochester. He is passionate, dark, funny, complex and dare I say.... so HOT!!!

  20. Disconnected is all I can say of it.All these other Jane Eyre's and no mention of the best, Samantha Morton with Ciaran Hinds. To me she played the part with such ownership I can vision no other in her place and see all others as imposters:-).I never tire of watching this film and have not found even its equal in comparison.

  21. I enjoyed this verison of Jane Eyre a lot. Especially compared to a lot of other films out in American theaters at the moment (half of which look horrible) :( Jane Eyre is actually my favorite novel and usually I am quite picky when it comes to novels being made into films. However I went into this film without any expectations and maybe that is why I walked away feeling happy about it. It is the best movie ever made, NO. Is it an enjoyable film, Yes. I was excited to see another verison of Jane Eyre with two lead actors I really enjoy watching. It isnt perfect I will say that but overall I thought it was beautifully filmed, acted, and directed.

  22. It may be pathetic to admit, but I've now seen the new Jane Eyre three times. The first time, I was a bit scandalized. Where was the theme of forgiveness and real faith (as opposed to the Lowood approach to religion) that is so crucial to the novel? Where was the sparkling banter, the wit? It is dark; it is violent; it, at times, spooks the viewer with cheap tricks (i.e. the bird in the woods). But, that said, after the initial shock, I love the new version. (Partly because it spurred my viewing of several of the 1990s versions which, let's face it, make this version's strengths so obvious.) This Jane and Rochester actually HAVE chemistry. The casting is pretty much perfect and the acting spot on. Mia's expressions reflect Jane's inner conflict in a way I don't think ANY of the earlier Janes succeeded. Watch it again, friends, and it might grow on you!

  23. I'm sympathetic to your reservations about the film--I personally really liked it; however, I was not unaware of the time constraints and subsequent condensing of the plot. (I hope with all my heart that they release a director's cut version) BUT--I vehemently disagree with your "One of my biggest frustrations were the long drawn out pauses which seemed an attempt to create a mood which I would have gladly traded away for more time spent on filling in the many holes left in the plot. . ."
    No, no, no....Watch the Twilight series to understand the definition of a gargantuan pause ;) This version has its faults, but compared to Twilight, Jane and Edward are talking like chipmunks on caffeine. ^_^

  24. I'm a little late coming to this post, but it was your blog that first introduced me to this new Jane Eyre adaptation so I figured I'd come back and see your views on it. I agree with you. The cinematography is nothing short of stunning (especially in terms of lighting), but the movie basically took all of the novel's dramatic parts and strung them together one after the next until the whole story was reduced to a thriller of sorts. They skipped over many of the witty, subtle, and subdued scenes that I'd come to love in the novel. But I'm glad I watched it, if for the visuals alone... and Mia was fantastic in her role.

    Very cool to see that you're from Ottawa (I am too)!

  25. you are spot on! it wasn't BAD, just... lacking. I didn't feel the connection like I do in the Toby Steven Ruth Wilson version. Book-Movies are never what you expect.

  26. Thanks for your comments everyone, I've enjoyed reading each person's take on the film!

    Funny! And I have no plans to watch Twilight so I'll just take your word for it!

    Maybe we'll bump into each other some time!!

  27. I think this is why so many people must make so many different versions of a classic novel. It is not possible to capture the essence of the book in a mere 90 minutes or even longer! I personally enjoyed the movie for the costumes and the actors themselves. It was disappointing to me that they left so many details out that the ending made almost no sense, and I agree, they spent altogether too long trying to build the mood instead of adding to the plot. However, for another person who has never read the book, this would be an altogether enchanting film. I almost wish I could go back and watch this movie before I had read the book in order to enjoy it properly (if that makes any sense).

  28. I LOVED this movie. I know that since it's based on a book it's assumed that it should include every bit of the storyline, but its interpretation was so much darker than other versions of Jane Eyre that it in itself was nicely done. It's a movie so of course it can't fit everything in, but what was there was beautifully depicted and made me think of the tortuous path that led Edward and Jane up to each other long after the movie was over. Cinemetography and music was excellent. And I agree with you that the acting was top-notch. It also helped that I didn't know who Michael Fassbender was before seeing this so it made the character of Edward all the more genuine to me :)



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