By Jonathan Decker (family therapist, film critic)
Masterful cinematography and fine performances highlight this new adaptation, a gorgeously atmospheric love story that is, unfortunately, drug down a few notches by choppy storytelling and a central romance that needs more room to breathe and develop. Playing like a darker and more tragic version of a Jane Austen story, the film absolutely nails the tone of mystery and melancholy, with a nice touch of eeriness. Visually it captures the beautiful dreariness and the vibrant sunniness of the English countryside, accompanied by a haunting musical score. The skill of actors Mia Wasikowska (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) and Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) is certainly more than up to par for this bittersweet love story; indeed, individual scenes between them crackle with genuine passion and chemistry.
Sadly, the whole is less than the sum of the parts, as the romance develops in a rushed and non-organic fashion: by the point she confesses affection for him he has done little to endear himself to her, cutting the legs out from the central relationship and robbing the finale of some of its potency. Still, there is enough by way of intrigue, heartache, and surprises to make this enjoyable for a Jane Eyre novice such as myself. I simply suspect that this is not the best depiction of this tale. Perhaps I'll give the novel a go. GRADE B-
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Jane Eyre is rated PG-13. It contains no foul language or sexuality. There are brief glimpses of a bloody stab wound and of a nude painting. A woman denies a man's veiled sexual advances. A child is caned in front of her school class.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Child abuse is can have repercussions lasting decades. Kindness can bring peace and healing.
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Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.