This is a proper Victorian romance, full of melodrama, moralizing and mores (made to be broken by spunky heroines). It reads a bit like the diary of a teenager whose sole literary diet consists of Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. The conversations are a little too elaborate, the characters a little too saintly (or otherwise, devilish) and the ending a little too tidy. These qualities lend it a kind of charm, which along with flashes of surprising wit, make this a hard book to put down
This version of Jane Eyre, preceded by at least 10 other movie/TV adaptations, does not build on its rich literary and filmic heritage, but is instead a limp, insipid, soulless, uninspiring husk of a movie. It is so bland and anaemic that providing detailed criticism feels a bit like punching a supermodel in the face with a hamburger.
Every aspect of the film is stifled by an overwhelming sense of apathy; instead of chemistry between actors, there are gaping black holes that suck up all the dialogue and energy. Fassbender delivers his lines in a peculiarly preoccupied way – as if he literally isn’t being paid enough to make him care and might have been illegally double-parked during filming. The screenwriter apparently decided that all the best and most dramatic scenes in the book had had their fair share of attention in previous films, so they were left out, replaced by bespoke episodes of almost painfully poor dialogue that did little to develop the characters or propel the plot. The film is only recognizable as a pale shadow of the original story. To replicate it, I would give a sleep-walking director three colors, a bored cameraman and a script composed by the grandmother of someone who had once had the story of Jane Eyre told to them while they were busy getting stoned.
Eclipsing all these failings is the unforgivable fact that the movie bored me. There was no passion, no emotional connection, not even the smug sense of superiority that comes from hating a movie for really inconsequential, snobby reasons. If you feel that you simply must watch this film, your best plan of action would probably be to make yourself a bowl of popcorn and then eat it while waving the DVD cover rapidly in front of your face for an hour. You can then throw up into the empty popcorn bowl, having had a slightly more interesting and inspiring experience than watching the actual movie.
Of course, if you are at all interested in the story, you should see the A&E version with Timothy Dalton. This version is nice because it doesn’t make you want to throw up (among other reasons).