Jane Eyre

2011-05-09 14:48
What it’s about:

Based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic Victorian novel, Jane Eyre chronicles the life of a governess who works at Thornfield House for a wealthy, mysterious master, Edward Rochester. As both characters’ tragic stories unravel, Jane discovers that Rochester is hiding a terrible secret. As she flees the manor house, she reflects upon her life and the people who have shaped her character, realising that she and Rochester share a deep and unbreakable connection.

What we thought:

The stark beauty of director, Cary Joji Fukunaga's rousing new remake of Charlotte Brontë's Gothic romance is what sets this particular Jane apart from the countless imaginings of this captivating character. And that is a feat in itself, since the story of Jane Eyre is one surrounded by familiarity and dense history, considering that we’re talking about a 180-year-old text. Yet, Fukunaga respects this and rather than giving the narrative a Holloywood overhaul, he manages to distil the text to its purist form.

Mia Wasikowska also respects, resurrects and re-imagines the character of Jane. The Australian-born actress heretofore most well known for her role as Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is enthralling as the plain governess with the troubled, yet fiery soul. Her pallor and beauty, like Jane is at once bewitching, yet achingly basic and has no trouble illuminating the screen every time she is featured. And at the age of 21, Wasikowska perfectly embodies Jane’s contrasting attributes of youthful tenderness and fervour.

But, Wasikowska, along with co-star Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester, also bring a particularly brooding element to the screen – the constant dualism of love and pain that so perfectly reflects the original novel’s tone. There is never happiness without anguish and solitary moments are penetrated with foreboding and mystery.

On the subject of mystery the film also delivers well; incorporating the underlying Gothic elements of the tale without it overshadowing the psychological drama that lies at the story and main character’s core. There is hair-raising suspense – which Fukunaga captures beautifully, hinting at the dark secret of what is concealed in the attic at Thornfield.

And it is this electric apprehension that feeds the chemistry between Wasikowska and Fassbender. The dark, tormented character of Rochester who is as fascinated by Jane as we the audience are, stares right into her soul, making for scenes of magnificently pent up Victorian passions that threaten to be unleashed.

Yet, although Jane Eyre is often construed as a love story – this is not the case. It is principally a life story, told through the eyes of its titular character - recording her troubled past as an unloved, orphaned girl who overcomes the coldness and cruelty of the world in order to become her own person and ultimately the equal of the man she loves.

In the novel, as literature buffs will know the narrative follows a linear pattern. However Moira Buffini's  script starts out in the middle of Jane's epic journey and then works its way back and forth  in time through flashbacks of her life. It's a surprising modern touch that establishes the tone of the film as distinct from the 19th-century novel so many know and love.

It’s not the first and it is certainly not the last, but this Jane is a welcome addition to the retellings of this classic story.

The stark beauty of this rousing adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Gothic romance is what sets this particular Jane apart.
Read more on:    michael fassbender  |  review  |  movies

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.