The latest showing at my local theatre's film society was the newest telling of Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre. It would be possible to spend this review picking apart the book versus movie details but instead let’s just look at the film for what it is. A quick summary; essentially Jane Eyre, orphaned as a baby, grows up with her aunt, Mrs. Reed, a poor excuse for a caretaker and just an all around distasteful person. Jane attends an all girls school where her already dreadful childhood continues, as her best friend Helen dies of consumption leaving Jane alone again. Eventually, Jane works in Thornfield Hall and comes to know Mr. Rochester, the owner of the estate, whom she begins to fall in love with. This film took the opportunity to rearrange the chronology a bit which lets the audience look at the story differently. The novel is told from Jane’s point of view and by inserting the snippets of her dismal childhood into scenes where she is older, it shows the effect that her upbringing had on her personality. From the beginning Jane is never reluctant to say what she thinks and the film really emphasizes that aspect of her character. From the way she acts around Mrs. Reed as a child to her first interactions with Mr. Rochester, when Jane has something to say she does not hesitate to say it.
As a major period piece, Jane Eyre has a lot of offer in the way of cinematography. It opens with sweeping landscapes of Britain as Jane makes her way to the Moor House in a storm, and continues to take advantage of the beautiful setting throughout the film. Perhaps the element that most draws us into the 19th century is the score. Dario Marionelli, who also composed the score for Pride & Prejudice (2005), did an impeccable job with it. The musical compositions add a whole other layer of depth that this film really needed to immerse the audience in the era of the story.
With all the production details very well executed, the excellent acting was just sort of a given. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) was perfectly cast, in my opinion. She had just enough spunk without seeming sassy; simply refined. Mr. Rochester, played by Michael Fassbender, was her perfect opposite really. And as for Judi Dench, well she doesn’t really need any applause. She was fantastic and brought life to every scene appeared in, the few comedic moments that exist in this film are thanks to her brilliance. The one thing I wanted out of this film that I didn’t get however were more scenes between Jane and Mr. Rochester. I felt as though their relationship was a bit rushed and perhaps more scenes of them together, instead of some of the flash backs to her childhood, would help explain their relationship. All in all this film was a beautiful period piece if nothing else, a perfect dark film for a rainy day, and a worthwhile addition to the film society’s line-up.