by Anglea Lawless
Dir: Cary Fukunaga
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell
Cary Fukunaga’s ‘Jane Eyre’ is the latest in a long line of adaptations (27 to be precise) of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel. It would be easy to dismiss this latest effort from the American director as another example of the classic tale squeezed nicely into another tedious, costume drama corset. However, Fukunaga approaches the gothic romance between master and governess from a fresh angle appropriate for the twenty-first century.
Mia Wasikowska, best known for playing the titular role in Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ plays a restrained and principled Jane opposite Michael Fassbender as the dark and troubled Mr. Rochester, the master whom she soon discovers hides a terrible secret.
It’s the same story, but what sets this film apart from other adaptations are the strong performances which carry the story into the 2010s, and the fresh approach of the director. Instead of following the linear structure of the novel, the film employs flashbacks, adding depth and insight to the characters. The film begins with an adult Jane running away from home, before taking us back to a young Jane in her aunt’s house, and later as pupil in the grim Lowood orphanage. At twenty-two, Wasikowska is much closer in age to the eighteen year old girl of Bronte’s imagination, bringing a vulnerable, child-like aspect to the role. Along with outstanding performances from the two leads, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, and Jamie Bell provide fantastic support, bringing the characters believably to life. Fukunaga also adopts a cool colour pallet which mimics the damp and aloof Yorkshire setting, and adds to the eerie, Gothic tone of the film.
Furthermore, Fukunaga intensifies the romance between Jane and Rochester in a way other versions of the novel haven’t, and the main focus in the film is their relationship, with the two leads bringing and palpable energy and chemistry to the characters.
This concentration on their blossoming relationship means it can only be a disappointment, then, that the ending seems rather rushed. The time on the final scenes seems to have been forfeited on the romantic elements of the film, leaving the audience rather deflated. Overall though, this adaptation succeeds in bringing the romantic drama to life in a new and interesting way.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);