When Charlotte Brontë published Jane Eyre in 1847 under an assumed name, she could not have imagined that her heroine would continue move a new public, almost two hundred years later. And yet, Jane Eyre lives on, never more romantically so in than in the most recent film adaptation by up and coming US film director, Cary Fukunaga. Jane Eyre, as filmed by Fukunaga, is gloomy but exhilarating, magnificent and bleak, exposing small lives living big passions in huge, windswept landscapes; a visual treat throughout its 120 minutes.
Whilst I do not claim to have seen all of them – there have been over twenty-two film versions of Jane Eyre since 1910 – this new adaptation of the novel shines in two aspects. Firstly, it is faithful to the original text (a treat in these dumbing-down times) and secondly, the style of cinematography is modern and lyrical, in a bleak, post-modernist way.
Fukunaga did not take the easy way out with this adaptation. There are slow moments, akin to the long descriptions of places in the original novel, and a number of flashbacks and repetitions but it is the sharp and lyrical camerawork that serves the script well.
The casting is another of the film’s strengths; Mia Wasinkowska was perfectly placed as the intelligent, restrained and independent Jane. Although Jane’s internal turmoil and passion seemed better expressed in the film’s bleak, isolated depiction of the desolate Moors than by Mia Wasinkowska’s limited range of facial expressions, this did not detract for long. In fact, this limited register does well to serve the socially awkward, emotionally suppressed character of Jane in this adaptation.
Unlike many unfortunate cinematographic pairing, there is some chaste but real on-screen chemistry between Jane and Edward Rochester. In one of his best role to date, Michael Fassbender portrays the formidable, dark, satanic Mr Rochester, whilst Dame Judi Dench is perfect as the down-to-earth Mrs Fairfax, injecting warmth whenever she enters the scene.
All in all, Jane Eyre is a recommended film to see, as much for its excellent direction and script, as its beautiful cinematography.
Watch the trailer of Jane Eyre here.