flew back to the city yesterday afternoon and was not feeling productive, so i decided to check out the new Jane Eyre adaptation directed by Cary Fukunaga. i’m gonna start off by saying that even though i am a totally biased Janeite who’s never really enjoyed any of the Brontë’s works, this version is probably the best adaptation out there. (and i’m thinking the reason why there’s never been a truly fulfilling cinematic or tv adaptation is because the source material isn’t strong enough…just a thought.)
in his sophomore feature outting, Fukunaga’s directing chops solidifies him as a filmmaker to definitely keep your eye on, and proves that Sin Nombre wasn’t just a fluke. this guy understands visual storytelling and his background in cinematography makes Jane Eyre more than just your standard costume drama—the lighting is immaculate (minus a few shots) and the hand-held camerawork adds a Malickesque level of intimacy. and for such a dark and dreary tale, the bits of humor that Fukunaga injects are more than welcome.
in the acting department, Mia Wasikowska does a phenomenal job of playing the film’s eponymous heroine. her presence onscreen is something pretty special and for those long, dialogue-less moments, Wasikowska carries herself with dignity and a stillness when other actresses might have resorted to forced emotion or, heaven forbid, ‘acting’. her chemistry with Michael Fassbender’s Mr. Rochester also works well, but as much as i was excited about Fassy’s Rochester, i found his portrayal lacking.
now that’s not to say he acted poorly; he (and i blame Fukunaga for this too) just took Rochester in a different direction—a lighter, more easily charming and lovey dovey direction. early on, you get the sense that Rochester’s a temperamental, cynical sort, but all that soon melts away and the menace and cruelty—which is key to the character—is pretty much absent. Rochester gets taken with Jane way too quickly, so much so that it’s missing the monster to sympathetic Byronic Hero arc. and considering that the main reason i went to see this film was because of Fassy (and ok, Fukunaga’s work), i was a bit disappointed with the results. come on, guys, own the emo-ness that is Brontëian lit!
as with all adaptations, elements of the original story inevitably get left by the wayside. there’s always been a supernatural element to the story, and though this version definitely acknowledges it, it was curious to see that they didn’t really push that aspect, as it was mainly relegated to the sound design. i’m still not sure how i feel about that. meh.
in the end though, it remains a truth universally acknowledged that Austen > Brontë.