Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell.
Directed by: Cary Fukunaga
When you read a book, you use your imagination to create in your mind what you are seeing on the page. When you watch a movie, you are fed the visuals that the filmmaker wants you to see. As I approached the latest version of my favorite novel “Jane Eyre,” I encountered this dynamic. While the movie was visually nice and the interpretation was new and different, I already had cemented in my mind what I believed the story and characters ought to be. Bias aside, I think “Jane Eyre” should fascinate newcomers and please loyal fans.
The story of Jane Eyre is lengthy and full of emotion and challenges. In brief, Jane is an orphan who lives with her negligent and unloving aunt, Mrs. Reed, and her tormenting cousins. Receiving nothing but misery from her caregiver, she is sent to Lowood Institute, an all-girls school ruled over by a pious and strict headmaster and his cold and submissive staff of teachers. Jane encounters hardships there, as well, and at age 18 decides to advance her life and improve her situation. She advertises as a governess and is hired to take care of a little girl at the mysterious Thornfield Hall. The grand hall is owned by Mr. Rochester; when Jane first encounters him, she is taken aback by his harshness and callousness. But, as time wears on, Jane and Mr. Rochester begin to develop feelings for each other. As their relationship slowly and tumultuously progresses, strange happenings occur at Thornfield. On the cusp of the only happiness Jane has ever known, dark secrets surface and she and Mr. Rochester are affected in the deepest of ways.
Having seen a few adaptations of this classic novel before, I can say that this particular version is closest in imagery, atmosphere, and accuracy to the book. The cinematography captures the bleakness of the English countryside and the loneliness of Thornfield Hall. The directing and storyline was fresh and interesting. Mia Wasikowska’s portrayal of Jane was acceptable, but some of Jane’s characteristics weren’t brought to full-light. The same could be said of Michael Fassbender’s Mr. Rochester. He lacked the moodiness and meanness; instead, he embodied a more likeable and composed Rochester. I did appreciate the lengthy depiction of the happy times of Jane and Rochester’s romance, instead of the dark moments only. I also liked the fact that the frequently overlooked St. John, played by Jamie Bell, received a decent amount of face-time.
The story of “Jane Eyre” is about the noblest of things: loyalty, friendship, commitment, love, and forgiveness. While some of the characters can be frustrating and their decisions confusing, the moral message of the film will leave the viewer with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Doing the right thing is always the best of choices, even if it is so very hard to choose.