MIA WASIKOWSKA JUDI DENCH MICHAEL FASSBENDER
JAMIE BELL SALLY HAWKINS
In a dark and almost nightmarish version of the literary classic by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre is a rare film that orchestrates darkness into something artistically beautiful. Breakout star Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right) charms her way into this role with the bleak nature and underlying passion that is pitch perfect for the character. As the title character and the film resting on her shoulders, Wasikowska is one of the pictures strongest and most welcome elements. It’s a bit hard not to compare Jane Eyre to the 2005 Pride & Prejudice which shares Dench, subject matter and the same musical composer. While Pride & Prejudice was a very polished, more accessible story and an instant classic I think the strongest point here is that a difficult novel is transformed into something nightmarish.
Abused and neglected, parentless Jane Eyre (Wasikowska) is sent to a boarding school where she is further mistreated. When she is finally old enough to leave she becomes the governess to a child belonging to a wealthy but mysterious man Rochester (Fassbender). An unlikely friendship develops between the two, as she is the only person in his life with stimulating conversation Dark secrets lurk in the dreary old house, and while Rochester finally makes his love known to plain Jane but his past will come back to tear them apart.
Sophomore director Cary Fukunaga’s last film Sin Hombre was highly regarded in the independent community and he seems very knowledgeable of British director Joe Wright’s masterful work on Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. Fukunaga certainly paints this film with its own particular shades of grey but it’s that distinct look that makes it stand apart from other period pieces. If the film has a fault it’s the simple lack of greatness and the consistent pace that never rises above a steady heartbeat. Still Jane Eyre never gets too far off course. The supporting cast is admirable here; Dench plays a much softer role than usual, but it’s hard to focus on anything but Wasikowska.
If the engagement scene in Pride & Prejudice was a dramatic crescendo, here it’s nothing more than a verbal hiccup and that’s the constant temperature of the film. The comedic or light moments are few, but that does not subtract from the films overall enjoyment. Jane Eye is a difficult sale due to subject matter and that dying breed of period piece films in mainstream American cinema, still it’s one of the better films in theaters so far this year. Jane Eyre’s early debut will likely be forgotten much like the period film Bright Star which also showed great promise. However, if this film is any indication of Wasikowska's talent we will all soon be learning how to pronounce that name.
Final Thought - The dark brooding mood is half the allure.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Charley Carroll
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
This version of the Charlotte Bronte novel is dark and mysterious, with passions running deep. The filmmakers have captured the mood of the novel, taking place in foggy, misty England. The cinematography is elegant in giving the viewer just enough light to make out what is going on, in order to keep the undercurrent emotions in the foreground. Cinematographer Adriano Goldman, also worked on the director Cary Fukunaga’s previous film, Sin Nombre, which was similar in emotional tension, although the stories are quite different. Here, the dark, foggy atmosphere is critical to the Gothic tale.
What does shine through is the purity, passion, and sincerity of its heroine Jane played brilliantly by Mia Wasikowska. She and her costar Michael Fassbinder, who plays Rochester, create the agonizingly slow development of their attraction to one another while still maintaining the drumbeat of their passion. The scenes of abuse Jane endured in childhood are hard to watch, and the technique of going forward and backward in time is effective in balancing the heaviness of those scenes with ones conveying a sense of safety and some comfort. Judi Dench as the housekeeper of Thornfield and Sally Hawkins as the cruel aunt round out an excellent cast.
This story has been filmed many times, yet the filmmakers of this version have managed to capture an audience as easily as if it had been the first.