But Helen, who will die an early death, leaves Jane with another legacy. She explains to Jane the existence of a “world of spirits commissioned to guide,” then lets Jane know that she is soon “going home to God.”

Jane’s other female mentor is Mrs. Fairfax (Judi Dench, Nine), the housekeeper at Thornfield. The older woman takes Jane under her wing and warns her not to fall for Rochester, whose personal situation is far more complicated than Jane knows.

But fall for Rochester she does, and on the verge of marrying him, she learns of his marriage to another. Jane’s compass points her away from Thornfield when Rochester shows her his wife, a mentally disturbed woman he keeps hidden away. Although he tempts Jane to live with him in sin by telling her that “fate” has “dealt me a blow,” his insistence that he will get pleasure in life no matter the cost to himself or others sends Jane fleeing into the care of Rivers. However, Rivers’ noble intentions are no match for Jane’s feelings for Rochester, despite Rochester’s betrayal of Jane.

Jane Eyre’s most potent moments are in its dialogue, carried over from Bronte’s novel. Religion is an important element in the film, but it comes to the fore only later in the film. Because of the fractured timeline, Jane’s embrace of the scriptural truths she utters toward the end of the story don’t feel as organic as they might have had the story been told in a sequential manner. But what’s left in this new adaptation are several mentions of timeless truths and moral principles.

This version of Jane Eyre will challenge viewers who think they’re getting a more modern spin on a traditional story, and may disappoint devotees of the novel who expect to see a clearer development of Jane’s moral compass.

Is the glass half full or half empty? That’s a question that can be answered only after seeing Fukunawa’s film. This new Jane Eyre has much to recommend, but anyone expecting the glass to be completely full had better adjust their expectations beforehand.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: None.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Rochester smokes and drinks; later scene of drinking that may be medicinal.
  • Sex/Nudity: Nude female figure in a painting; kissing.
  • Violence/Crime: A young man pursues Jane with a play sword and strikes her with a book; she fights back; Jane runs into a door and knocks herself out; a student is struck on the back of the neck; Jane treats a wound on a man’s neck
  • Religion/Morals: Jane is told to pray for forgiveness lest something come down the chimney and take her away; Jane is asked if she knows where the wicked go after death; when she replies, “To hell,” she’s asked to define hell and explain how she might avoid it; a man says he will “root out the wickedness in this sad, ungrateful plant” (meaning Jane); Jane says her deceased mother and father can see her aunt, who is a liar, and that they will judge her; Jane is punished by being put on the “pedestal of infamy” and shunned by other children; Helen tells Jane that a kingdom of spirits exists, and that, when Helen dies, she’ll be going home; Adele’s mother is said to have “gone to the Holy Virgin”; multiple scenes of people saying grace before a meal; Jane extends full and free forgiveness to someone who wronged her; Rochester refers to his wife as “my own demon”; an assertion that God intends Jane to be a missionary’s wife.


Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.