By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
You can’t really film a book. The most you can do is to try and interpret it, and hopefully capture its spirit in the final product. When you add in the challenge of making relevant a 200 year old message, rooted in culture and customs entirely different from the audiences’, you begin to see how tough a job filming a classic really is.
If you’re looking to lull high schoolers to sleep, there’s always this approach
Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) is a young woman raised in a strict orphanage who gains a position as a tutor to the ward of the dashing, mercurial (dickish) Lord Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Barely restrained passion, dark secrets in drafty manors, and an admirable lack of swooning follow.
There is an awful lot to raise your glass for in this adaptation. Right from the beginning the cinematography is striking. Foggy country lanes and the dying sun illuminating the stark moors are exploited to the utmost and form a strong counterpoint to what is largely an internal, psychological film.
Moira Buffini’s script and Cary Fukunaga’s direction do an excellent job of bringing vitality to a familiar story. Fukunaga in particular is a name to remember. His debut was an underrated immigrant drama, and now he shows serious versatility with this stolid classic of English Literature.
Or maybe I didn’t understand Sin Nombre at all
The biggest reason to watch, though, is the acting. Dame Judy Dench is as good as always, and Fassbender does a good job, although I was hoping for a bit more after his turn in Fish Tank. Wasikowska, though, is a revelation. Her portrayal of a strong, independent woman struggling to reconcile her inner nature with the boundaries of her society is as nuanced and powerful as you could ask for, doing the source proud.
The film adapts a different time structure than the book in a mostly successful effort to inject a little mystery to the proceedings, but the transitions are just confusing. I understand there’s a lot to stuff in there, but don’t jump from a village schoolhouse to a country manor months earlier without some sort of connection or at least a dissolve.
Throw one back for the ending. Jamie Bell plays a country preacher who talks Jane in after her relationship with Rochester comes to a head. I don’t remember him being so vehemently chauvinist, and it kinda ruins the subtlely of the rest of the film. Also, disembodied voices always come out just a bit cheesy.
Unless it told her to burn things. Now that would be a reboot!
This is a nice showcase for some talent you’ll be seeing a lot more of, and Wasikowska makes this one worth it all by herself.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Rochester says something douchy
Take a Drink: each time Wasikowska gets a close-up
Drink a Shot: whenever someone calls Wasikowska or Fassbender plain or ugly