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September 14, 2011 / Rachel Bednarski

(Yet Another) Jane Eyre

Production

Finding myself in Manchester this week I thought it a requisite to visit the Cornerhouse for a flat white and a viewing of Cary Fukunaga’s anticipated adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Fukunaga doesn’t strive to break new ground or to dramatically distinguish his version of the Bronte classic from either its innumerable predecessors or its textual original, shunning the trappings of big-budget Hollywood to bask in understated English subtlety. Whilst this approach avoids the kind of mess created by Tim Burton with his re-visioning of Alice in Wonderland, it does, unfortunately, make for a rather unremarkable cinema experience, particularly for any viewers who may be unacquainted with the novel.

To add further disappointment, Mia Wasikowska, who plays an ultimately rather restrained Jane, remains undeveloped as an actor since her awkward performance as Alice in Alice and Wonderland. Her austerity proves perfect in portraying Jane’s post-Lowood stubborn defensiveness, yet the passion and depth of the textual Jane’s internal monologue and love for Rochester is extinguished by the weight of Wasikowska’s unyielding broodishness. In contrast, it must be noted that Michael Fassbender perfectly executes the detached masculine authority of nineteenth-century patriarchy in his portrayal of the beleaguered Rochester.

The real soul of the film lies within its elegant cinematography. Visually the film is charming, with rolling shots of rural Derbyshire and the use of only naturally available light which occasionally glints in rainbows upon the camera lens.

Ultimately, Fukanaga’s effort is certainly worth a watch, but purchase your ticket without expectation – much of what makes Bronte’s novel great: the rich gothic melodrama, the tormenting of Jane by the ghostly Bertha, the complexity of Rochester’s suffering, is left underdeveloped and the subtleties of Jane and Rochester’s relationship are absent, leaving an unconvincing rendering of the love that Bronte captures so perfectly in her writing. Once again, a work of great literature remains unmatched by its filmic counterpart.

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2 Comments

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  1. Food Freak Frank / Sep 29 2011 10:45 pm

    yeah I agree… the actress for Jane Eyre fits the character very well, even if she hasn’t fit some of her other roles so well. I’m excited to get more into this book, I just started, but it seems like it’s going to get really good. It is too bad however, that she doesn’t develop very much in the movie…i’ll have to see and see what I think for myself.

    • blookblog / Sep 30 2011 11:40 am

      Hey Frank, thank-you for stopping by! I know what you mean, Mia does play a very good self-preserving Jane, if only that were the only side to Jane’s character she’d be a winner! I hope you enjoy the book and you’ll have to let me know what you think of the film, it’s definitely worth a watch.

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