Saturday, April 2, 2011
Beautiful Jane Eyre (2011)
Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre is a beautiful film. Fukunaga’s camera frames expansive shots of the somber moor in contrast with the bright blossoms of Rochester’s gardens. Interior shots of windows and curtains full of light are memorable as well. The film’s colors seem to shift with its mood: from the grays and muted colors of the austere moorland and the foggy woods to the bright greens of Thornfield’s grounds to a brown filter over shots of Jane awakening to her love for Rochester.
Along with the film’s pretty look we get an excellent cast. Michael Fassbender plays a moody, manly, passionate Edward Rochester. Jamie Bell is nicely cast as the fervent missionary, St. John Rivers, and Judi Dench reins in her tendency to overact as she invests Mrs. Fairfax with warmth and humor. But the driving force of Jane Eyre is the remarkable portrayal of Jane by Mia Wasikowska, whose absorbing performance and beautiful presence magnify the film’s visual beauty.
Costumed in plain dresses, her hair pulled back severely, Wasikowska brilliantly establishes the strength of character and soul that constitutes the most famous plain Jane in British literature. Wasikowska instills in Jane a firm sense of self and an inner strength tempered by loss and suffering that support her when Rochester’s devious attempt to defy moral custom is followed by the proposition that she live with him out of wedlock. The aborted wedding, Jane’s desperate struggle to unfasten the wedding garments that have ensnared her, her confrontation with Rochester and the truth, and her flight from Thornfield to the stormy moor are dramatic moments in a well-written script.
Though Sally Hawkins contributes histrionics to a deathbed apology that doesn’t quite fit, and the end comes too quickly after Jane leaves Rivers, with the dramatic fire covered after the fact in stage play fashion as a monologue delivered by Dench, the film achieves a lasting impact by setting Wasichowska’s impressive portrayal of an oft-portrayed character in a visual world of artistically framed shots and dramatically juxtaposed images and colors.