Jane Eyre

31 May

Director: Cary Fukunaga

Writers: Charlotte Brontë (novel), Moira Buffini (screenplay)

Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell

Motion picture rating: PG-13

Runtime: 120 minutes

 

Do we really need another film version of Jane Eyre? Probably not after the 1996 film with William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg and the 2006 BBC adaptation with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. It’s an odd choice that is made stranger by the director’s role being taken by the relatively inexperienced American Cary Fukunaga. The omens, so to speak, were not positive for this adaptation. The results, however, are surprisingly good.

The story of Jane Eyre has a classic central theme of a put upon girl too smart and too ‘modern’ for those around her. The heroine’s childhood is decidedly bleak and thereafter she starts to live a small life as a governess in a large northern manor house. She is employed by the stern Mr Rochester, but he rarely visits and Jane appears at ease with her isolation. We get glimpses of Jane’s spirit in her interactions with Rochester where she displays intellect, poise and confidence – so much so that she quickly intrigues her employer and they develop an unconventional friendship.

The scenes between Jane (Mia Wasikowska – Tim Burton’s Alice in 2011 too) and Rochester (Michael Fassbender – last year’s hardest working actor) are excellent. These are the heart of the film and the best elements of it. Both characters are similar in personality, inwardly lonely and full of pride, but clearly coming from either end of the social ladder. Their conversations fizz and burn and allow the two strong actors to really push each other.

The acting here is top notch as is the cinematography and choice of locations. The northern country landscape is harsh and mysterious. A washed out and muted grey colour palette is retained throughout and accompanied with an interesting musical score. The overall package is good. It warrants another adaptation and suggests that Fukunaga the director is a talent to watch.

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