Friday, September 16, 2011

Jane Eyre (2011)

When I was at school, I had a lot of trouble with the classics. Not all of them though, Bram Stoker, Lovecraft and Mary Shelly weren’t a problem, but Daniel Defoe, Jane Austin and Charlotte Bronte I struggled with.

Why? I’m not quite sure, especially after seeing Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation. It’s given me an entirely different perspective on this 19th century novel, visualising it in such gothic splendour that there wasn’t a moment during the film’s 120 minutes that my heart simply didn’t skip a beat.

Jane Eyre

Mia Wasikowska plays the title role of Jane who flees Thornfield Hall, where she works as a governess for Edward Fairfax Rochester’s (Michael Fassbender) young daughter, Adèle Varens. Despite her reclusiveness and Rochester’s impulsive nature, the two fall in love, but unknown to her is the dark secret he has kept hidden. It’s inevitable revelation waiting to destroy them both.

Jane finds shelter in the home of a kind clergyman, St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell), and his family. There she takes on a new job while she recuperates, but knows only too well that one day she will have to face it all, including her beloved Rochester.

Told in flashbacks, Fukunaga pieces together a story I couldn’t tear my eyes away from, not even for a second. Although he moved the time period up by a few years to improve on the costumes, Jane Eyre emerges as the film I always wanted to see in my mind when reading the book.

It’s just so hard to contain the emotions as we see Jane making her way back to Thornfield Hall, only to discover the horror of what happened during her time away. It’s a breathtaking film, based on a story I am only now starting to understand and appreciate.

The performances are stunning; Wasikowska is everything you could ask for here and Fassbender is magnificent as the frighteningly charming Rochester. I was captivated by the cinematography and score as well. Never have the grey skies and wet fields looked as achingly beautiful as they have in Jane Eyre and as Dario Marianelli’s score worked its magic it was Jack Liebeck’s masterful violin playing that moved me quietly and peacefully to tears.

Needless to say, Jane Eyre has renewed my interest in classic literature and in no time at all I was thumbing through the fiction section at my local library under “B” to relieve those moments I had only just experienced on the screen.

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