Jane Eyre [1996]

Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: William Hurt, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Joan Plowright, Anna Paquin, Elle MacPherson
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 112 minutes

The fascinating British actress Samantha Morton stars as the titular heroine in this provocative version of Jane Eyre, based on Charlotte Bronte's oft-filmed, 1847 novel. The familiar contours of Bronte's story are all here: Jane, the unhappy orphan, grows up to become governess at Thornfield, a gloomy estate owned by the imperious and worldly, but curiously desperate, Mr. Rochester (CiarĂ¡n Hinds). While the latter's grasping attentions stir the inexperienced young woman, the gothic goings-on at Thornfield suggest layers of unwholesome secrecy in Rochester's life. Most productions of Jane Eyre carefully reflect Bronte's absorbing balance between romance, horror, and Jane's psychological passage to adulthood. But this 1997 television movie is interesting for its near-reckless emphasis on Jane and Rochester's mutual obsession and galloping jealousies. The dramatic strategy throws off the story's overall tone, but such problems are worth it to see Morton and Hinds explore Jane Eyre's darkest possibilities. --Tom Keogh

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