Focus Features — well known for its award-winning independent dramas — is taking us back to the time of courtship, suffering, forbidden love and tragedy in “Jane Eyre.”
Not having read the novel, I went in with the thought of period romantic dramas like “Pride and Prejudice,” but the dark and dreary settings and the way the movie is shot ended up reminding me of styles found in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” mixed with the mood of “Mary Reilly.” “Jane Eyre” is as much about the limitations put on women in the past as it is a romantic drama. It is a delicate and enigmatic tale woven from the bonds of societal expectations put on the women of that time.
Mia Wasikowska — who plays the title role — is certainly proving herself to be quite talented. She was first introduced to a mainstream audience as Alice in the previously-mentioned “Alice in Wonderland,” and then as the daughter of two lesbians who wants to know more about her past in “The Kids Are All Right.” Now, by bringing Charlotte Brontë’s iconic character Jane to life, she is well on her way to establishing herself as a new leading lady in Hollywood. Her portrayal of Jane is emotional and yet reserved; you can see the sadness in her eyes as she pretends to be indifferent. Her character design was pale and a bit unseemly, but that might have been the point, as Mr. Rochester saw the beauty within her.
Michael Fassbender is great opposite of Wasikowska in his rendition of the flawed, but charismatic Mr. Rochester. I found many of the scenes between these two to be quirky and fun. I believed their chemistry and barely noticeed the age difference between them while watching the movie. Fassbender is also showing much diversity in the roles he chooses. He was just a Roman warrior on the run in “Centurion” and this summer he will play Magneto in “X-Men: First Class.”
The settings in “Jane Eyre” are beautiful, but one major problem with the movie is the lack of light. Almost every single scene is lit by a few candles and although this may be to help set the somber and mysterious mood of the film, I found others complaining that certain scenes were hard for them to see what was going on. However, I thought the way it was lit and shot gave it the feeling of a thriller at times and helped during slower times in the story. I enjoyed and was taken aback at the emotionality in the story when it seemed to start off so cold and desolate. There are a few scenes where the two leads just explode with heart-wrenching emotions as they discuss their feelings for each other and their possible future together.
“Jane Eyre” — which is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief violence — also stars Judy Dench, Jamie Bell, Amelia Clarkson, Sophie Ward and Joseph Klowska. It is playing in limited release now.
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