Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Period Piece Challenge: Jane Eyre Movie Review

(I adore this movie poster!)
After spending nearly an entire week tracking this movie down (short of ordering it rush delivery from Amazon, I found it IMPOSSIBLE to find), I finally got the chance to see what Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre always were in my imagination.  It was a breathtaking, heart-wrenching, and overall extremely satisfying experience.  Bravo to all of those involved in the making of this film.  The actors, director, set and costume designers truly captured the essence of Jane Eyre and made it into a beautiful visual story.   The film is definitely an emotionally intense experience.  But in a good way.  As the viewer, you were forced into each emotion that the characters experienced. Whether it was Jane's terror or social isolation as a child or Mr. Rochester's internal struggle against his terrible secret, each frustration, each delight, was translated into real emotion.  It takes a seriously good movie to do that.  

(Wonderfully bleak settings abound!)
What I loved most about the film (aside from the fact that King Fassy played the dark and handsome Edward Fairfax Rochester) was the fact that it captured the supernatural undertones and the haunted atmosphere of the story so perfectly.  This might seem like a minor achievement but to me, it was crucial in setting the tone for the entire story.  The scene where Jane is punished and locked into the red room as a child f is absolutely terrifying, as are almost all of the dark-hallway scenes in Thornfield Manor.  The use of the candles and lanterns and shadows were so effective.  I had chills throughout most of the movie (dark corridors and misty moors!).  
(A perfectly gothic Thornfield Hall)
Another plus?  The set designers achieved the perfect balance between impressive and bleak.  They created the perfect Thornfield and I am forever grateful.  It is always the worst when you have envisioned something and filmmakers destroy your vision.  I was terribly relieved to see that they added just the right amount of Edgar Allen Poe to their understanding of the setting.  The costume designs were flawless as well.  The dresses were so accurate and, call me old fashioned, but I can't help but love a cloak and bonnet.  

At this point, I think it is safe to say that I am gushing.  But I'm not going to let that stop me from continuing on about the merits of the film.  I haven't even gotten to the part about the performances yet.
(So much intensity!)
The meek, innocent, and free-spirited Jane is played wonderfully by an equally demure and extremely believable Mia Wasikowska.  And what is there to say of Mr. Rochester?  Michael Fassbender, if I didn't already love you as an actor, this role has convinced me!  Now if only I could become a governess at a creepy mansion with an overbearing benefactor.  And may I just say that the tension between Jane and Rochester is palpable from the time that they first meet?  Wasikowska and Fassbender really did an incredible job of BECOMING Jane and Mr. Rochester.  I loved the 2006 Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre but I must say that these two outdid their 2006 counterparts as Jane and Edward.  Their relationship was terribly believable.  When Rochester begs Jane not to leave after the botched wedding and the discovery of his homicidal lunatic wife, I must admit that I tear up.  Life has been so unfair to these two individuals, though in different ways.  It is literally heartbreaking to watch their first glimpse of happiness ripped away by duty and an adherence to high moral and religious standards – things that are supposed to be good!  Just like the book, the movie creates immense frustration for these characters that you are really rooting for.  I'll also throw in one quick mention of Mrs. Fairfax.  How awesome was Judi Dench in that role?  Perfect casting can only lead to a remarkable film.  

I'll wrap this up with a few comments on language and music.  Every line is delivered with purpose and stays remarkably true to the text (without adopting its unbearable over-written-ness).   The characters remain true to their time period (which is always appreciated here at Victorian Swag).  The music was graceful, haunting (as it should be) and very moving without overwhelming the simplistic nature of the scenes and the dialogue-heavy nature of the script.  

Did I have any complaints?  Well, really only one:  that the story does not turn out better for our heroine and her husband.  Jane and Rochester may end up together and they may end up happy.  But they deserve so much more!  And I kind of wanted to punch St. John in the face a few times; I won't lie.  Aside from that, I highly recommend watching this movie if you have a penchant for underdogs, romance, and beautifully made period pieces. 

If this post isn't enough to convince you, just watch the trailer.  Ugh.  SO GOOD!


  1. Oh Ali, I'm so glad you finally saw this one!!! Eeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!! Like you, despite my love for the characters and plot, I somewhat struggled with the book. So to see this adaptation, which seemed boiled down to everything I loved about the story was a spectacular experience I hope to relive again and again. Mia is so breathtakingly understated and spot on in her portrayal and Fassy, of course... well... ahem... Per-fec-tion! Flawless beings being flawless.

  2. This movie just needs to be played on perpetual repeat at our respective houses. It really is SO GOOD.