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.

7 comments:

Sam Juliano said...

"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."

And this Hokahey is a beautifully penned appreciation! I love the suggestion that the films colors seem to shift with its mood! I couldn't agree with you more, and I am beginning to believe this is the best JANE EYRE ever, even after that extraordinary BBC mini-series in 2006. I am completely with you too on Ms. Wasikowska, and believe she may well be the definitive Jane. You delineate her presence and demeanor perfectly, and this is of course the most vital concern in any adaptation of this timeless work. Similarly I love your contention here that "Wasichowska’s impressive portrayal of an oft-portrayed character in a visual world of artistically framed shots and dramatically juxtaposed images and colors."

I dare say this is the kind of film that will be enhanced and appreciated on an even higher level on repeat viewings. Wonderful review!

Hokahey said...

Thanks for reading, Sam. I went into to this movie feeling unexcited about seeing yet another rendition of Jane Eyre, but you're right. I want to see it again. Another thing that the film captures nicely is that moment of falling in love. They kiss, and then Jane takes him by the hand and they run back to the mansion. The transformation from formal stiffness to close familiarity is convincingly portrayed.

Yuba Guy said...

I won't get around to seeing this one for a few more weeks, but I'll say this right now: Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds rock, and I'm prepared to be a bit disappointed by Mia in Rochesterland, brown filter or not.

Hokahey said...

Well, be that way, Yuba Guy. Did you see Alice in Wonderland?

Jason Bellamy said...

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.

I agree she was the strength of the film, although I still found her a little difficult to get close to, which perhaps is part of the point? I'm not sure. I've never read the novel.

I also agree that the aborted wedding makes for one of the film's strongest sequences.

Hokahey said...

Jason - Yes, I guess Jane's distance is part of the point. Yet, in that distance, I always felt Jane thinking and sizing things up. I was very touched by this portrayal. I could feel the hardships Jane had gone through - and the dignity that got her through moments like the visiting lady laughing at her and making governess jokes. A very vivid depiction of upper-class humiliation of someone who is subservient.

Thomas Watson said...

What a wonderful experience it was to see this and join Jane on her journey of life with all the twists and turns, ups and downs!