Love is in the Eyre [sorry]

Posted on September 22, 2011

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I have to confess that I have read very few of the “classics”. Unless you include most of Wuthering Heights and the major works of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker and of course the great JRR Tolkien. I’ve never delved into the sappy frilly world of Jane Austen, or Dickens’ bleak houses of child workhouses, and dare I say that I probably never will. They just don’t float my boat. I do however have a growing penchant for movie adaptations of the classics. I have always been very fond of David Lean’s Oliver Twist, starring the wonderful Alec Guinness, but also really enjoyed Polanski’s  remake which put master actor Ben Kingsley [let’s forget Thunderbirds!] in the role of Fagin. Nicholas Nickleby is another favourite of mine. The difinitive version of Wuthering Heights for me so far was the pairing of Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes, but I have to say that I can’t wait to see the latest interpretation of this incredible story which is released this year.

So this week my good lady and I settled down to watch the latest take on the Brontë classic Jane Eyre. I have to say that I wasn’t completely taken with it at the time, and remember saying “it does go on a bit”. This may have something to do with the fact it was quite late and I was pretty much ready to drop, but also a few years back the BBC aired a four part dramatisation of Jane Eyre and I remember thinking how great it was [even though it still felt like a period drama]. So I wasn’t expecting great shakes from this pretty unknown director. After a few days and thinking about my next review I realised that actually Cary Fukunaga had achieved what was missing from the BBC version – a real sense that you were watching a classic gothic romance. Every scene breathes gothic style – the voices on the wind, creaking footsteps, lashing rain, the muted colours and fog… plenty of fog.
Michael Fassbender is great as Rochester, and Dame Judi is fab as ever, but the standout performance comes from Mia Wasikowska as Jane. I wasn’t that fussed about her as Alice in Tim Burton’s bonkers remake of the already bonkers ‘Alice in Wonderland’, but here she has proven that she is a wonderful actor. I also liked the director’s choice of inter-cutting the ‘now’ with scenes from her past as a way of getting her background across.
If there is one thing about the story that really annoys me, it’s the sudden mention of an unknown rich uncle who suddenly happens to leave Jane an vast inheritance! It just doesn’t feel like a necessary part of the story and makes you stop and go “…what was that for?”. But on the other hand I noticed that there is no over the top dramatic music to induce emotions [Downton Abbey I’m looking at you] – it’s simply down to the role of the actors, and they succeed tremendously.
Well worth a gander.

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