After seeing and enjoying the Cary Fukunaga Jane Eyre, I read several reviews to see if the critics and I were on the same wave length. I noticed that when the critics praised the actors, they didn't just say they were good. They used big adjectives. Yes, the actors were good, but I wondered:
Can one write a review of Jane Eyre without praising the actors?
Okay, here I go.
Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre opens with a woman running from a large stone castle. I don’t know her name, but I assume she’s Jane Eyre since the woman is played by Mia Wasikowska, and I know that Mia Wasikowska is playing Jane Eyre from the online trailer. Wasikowska’s Jane is practical and cutting. She. . .
No, not gonna go there.
The woman ends up at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere. She wanders in the beautifully filmed wilderness. She cries into a rock. The world is hard, and she is alone. She spots a light in a distant house and stumbles to it.
She is rescued by St. John Rivers and his two sisters. St. John is a young minister played with great Puritan restraint by Jamie Bell.
The film then moves into flashback where we see Jane’s painful childhood. First, she is locked up in a red room by her aunt played by Sally Hawkins who. . .
Don’t go there, Jen.
But I can’t help it.
. . . who wears the evil as well as she wore the happiness in Happy-Go-Lucky. Hah!
Then, Jane is shipped off to Lowood School where she survives humiliation, abuse, and typhus epidemic to grow up to become a young adult teacher at the school.
Before you can say fibbidigibbit, ten years go by. Adult Jane leaves Lowood and travels to Thornfield to be a governess and teacher there. The screenwriter and filmmaker both know that the meat of the story is at Thornfield.
Thornfield comes with an old housekeeper played by Judi Dench, a young French girl, paintings of naked women, and some strange things that go bump in the night. The housekeeper says things like this is a strange old house, and one does not laugh because, well, it’s Judi Dench.
Okay, I gotta praise Judi Dench. How can I not? It’s Judi Dench.
The owner of Thornfield turns out to be Mr. Rochester. Oh Mr. Rochester, how I swooned for him when I read Jane Eyre in high school. He had so much angst and pain. He was just so wounded. He liked smart girls.
Now that I am closer in age to Mr. Rochester than to Jane, I see that he is bad news with a lot of baggage. However, I understand that when you get older, you get baggage. Okay, a crazy wife in the attic is one large rolling suitcase, but show me someone in their late thirties with no regrets, and I will be bored instantly.
Mr. Rochester is played by Michael Fassbender who. . . .
Eeeeeee! It’s. So. Hard. Not. To. Use. Big. Words.
Jane and Mr. Rochester fall in love, and naturally, on the wedding day (must it always be the wedding day?), Jane learns that Rochester is married to the crazy lady in the attic. Jane could stay with Rochester as his mistress. They could travel the continent together. They could eat fine meals, drink fine wine, and live in nice hotels.
But our girl Jane has integrity. She will have none of it. She flees from Thornfield, and we’re back to the beginning of the film.
Back with St. John, Jane discovers that she has inherited money from a rich uncle she never knew. St. John proposes that she marry him and travel to India as a missionary. In time, she would grow to love him.
But our girl Jane will only marry for love. She’s read her Jane Austen. Besides, she views St. John as a brother and hears Rochester calling to her across the rugged moors.
She travels back to Thornfield and finds the grand old house burnt to a crisp. Fortunately, Judi Dench’s housekeeper is there is to provide much needed exposition. The crazy wife is dead. Jane is reunited with her blind and bearded Rochester. They kiss. The end.
All this story happens in two hours, and things keep moving. Sometimes I wished the characters had a moment to stand still.
To me, the film gets interesting when Jane and Rochester just sit and talk in a battle of minds and wills. Still, Bronte was no dialogue writer like Jane Austen.
Even with the desolate minimalist landscapes, the film still feels like Masterpiece Theatre. Lots of candles were used in the making of this film.
The candles gave a performance that was luminous filled with warmth and light.