It’s no secret that I’ve been anxiously awaiting the new adaptation of Jane Eyre. I happily watched the trailer the day it was released and was thrilled to be asked by Focus Features to be one of the hosts of the book/merchandise giveaway in conjunction with the March 11 release of the film. Then I was dismayed by discovering just before the day of its release that it was “limited release” and would not be playing in my area for another three weeks.
Well, I finally got to see it on Monday night and I wanted to give a brief, non-spoilery review to those of you who still haven’t had a chance to see it.
First of all, I loved the overall direction. Adaptations of Jane Eyre are becoming a dime a dozen. I did some research on IMDb and found that there’s been a whopping nineteen different Jane Eyre film adaptations, five in the last thirty years. It’s quite an accomplishment to stand out in that crowd. But the director Cary Fukunaga managed to do so by taking some risks in his interpretation of the story. He made some very noticeable changes from the original source material, ones I think that worked for the most part. I really don’t want to give anything away but this version really kept me guessing. There are some unique lines, scenes, and diversions from the book that were very unpredictable. It was very hard for me not to compare it to other adaptations, particularly the 2006 Masterpiece Theater miniseries which I love and have watched several times since it aired. But for the most part it never paled in comparison, it was just different and unexpected, and I liked that.
My next love and probably favorite part of the film was Michael Fassbender’s portrayal of Mr. Rochester. Besides looking the part, albeit maybe a bit too good-looking, his acting was the perfect mixture of commanding, wounded, and sweet. It doesn’t hurt that he has these beautifully clear, blue eyes and a disarming smile and the perfect jaw and long, slightly disheveled hair. I could go on and on, but *sigh* I was definitely a fan of his.
More than what you’d expect the cinematography, costumes, and overall look of the film is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly haunting. The violent scenes were perhaps the most disturbing and graphic ever depicted in an adaptation, resulting in audible gasps from the crowd. These scenes were just another element of this film that caught me off guard in a pleasing way. There’s also plenty of kissing, which as a more modern interpretation of Jane and Rochester’s relationship is always welcome. My biggest complaint was in the performance of Mia Wasikowska, which was at times dry, wooden and unconvincing. Jane is supposed to only appear to be stoic, not actually seeming to lack both passion and emotion. The child actress who played Jane was wonderful however and Judi Dench makes a feisty but kind Mrs. Fairfax. I also loved all the French that Jane and Adele spoke and that Adele actually looked French. Though a signature scene from the book was missing and the ending felt abrupt, I still really enjoyed this adaptation. I don’t know think it will become my favorite at this point because I still adore the 2006 miniseries very much if only for how faithful to the book it was and how much more time there is in that format for character development. I hope to see this version in the theater again though and even know now that the Blu-ray version of the film will be an auto-buy for me.
Who else has seen it and what did you think?