Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jane Eyre (2011)

Just got back from seeing the new version of Jane Eyre, and I loved it!  I've always loved that novel (couldn't stand Wuthering Heights with all its drama between two characters I thought were pretty rotten people)--maybe Jane speaks to the hyperresponsible first child part of me.  Or the "feels like a nerd" part. Either way, I thought this version captured the mood of the book perfectly, even as it condensed huge swathes of it.

Mia Wasikowska played Jane, and did so much with just a look or a set of her jaw to convey how much Jane struggles to tamp down her wilder instincts...and Michael Fassbender was a great Rochester, craggy and handsome-but-not-too-handsome.  You really felt the difference of age and class between them, even as you (and they) could see that Jane and Rochester are kindred spirits.

The movie also did an excellent job of bringing to life the Gothic terror of Jane's story--the haunted Red Room at the Reed's house, the moments when Bertha is prowling the halls of Thornfield--I felt her panic at the prospect of ghosts in a way I didn't when reading it.  (There's a moment at the very beginning of the movie that was played so casually and yet perfectly that the audience gasped in unison.)
The screenwriters condensed Jane's time at Lowood school, and with St. John Rivers, but still kept enough to please fans of the novel looking for literary touchstones--Helen Burns, or the ghostly whisper of Jane's name across the moors.  But the bulk of the story is at Thornfield...although nothing was missing, I found myself wishing we'd had an additional scene or two of Jane and Rochester battling wits and warming to one another.  And at the end of the movie, I longed for another beat or two of happy ending--but that's the romance fan in me.  All in all, I think this was a terrific adaptation and I'd recommend it!

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