Jane Eyre 2011
Edward Rochester … Michael Fassbender
Jane Eyre … Mia Wasikowska
Reader, I am a fan. On Friday night, when I should have been drilling political science theories into my resistant mind, I went to see Jane Eyre. It was not so much a matter of whether or not I had time (who does in college?) It was more about what number of my Jane-Eyre-loving friends could come with me.
I ended up going with two other lovers of 19th century novels, one of them an avid fan of Jane Eyre, with high expectations and whole chapters memorized. I promised her that, if she said lines along with the actors as she warned that she would, I would create a buffer between us (in the form of our third friend.) I dreaded hearing Rochester’s declaration of love suddenly develop an undertone of femininity from next to me. I did not carry through with the plan. As the seating arrangement went, my friend made endearing gasps and chest clutches throughout, while an older lady next to me showed some matured version of that same reaction (which manifested in orders to her husband to take back the popcorn and shushes all around.)
The theater audience, which consisted of mostly older couples, looked like they had probably read the book. They laughed at the right parts, many of which were more obviously funny in the book itself, so I took that as further evidence. But, watching a movie adaption of a book you love is sometimes not best to do with an audience. Unless you want that input, often unexpected.
The row behind us was very vocal.
After the fire scene, where the not-dead-thanks-to-Jane Mr. Rochester tries to convince Jane to stay – to have tea and crumpets, obviously, because that is what a lady does in the 19th century when she’s alone with a man…
Jane: (trying to get away) I’m cold.
Man Behind Us: (leer) I could warm her up.
Me: (imagining fifty-year-old man with beer belly) … D:
Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska): Finally, an age-appropriate Jane Eyre! Here, she is actually young and only a couple of years older than Jane would have been. Physically, she is small, thin, delicate-looking, but plain as only celebrities can be (and by that, I mean gorgeous.) I wouldn’t dare go into an analysis of what made her a good Jane Eyre, since I haven’t read the book in a while, but I found her acting both subtle and strong. She’s up there as one of my favorite Jane Eyres, right behind Ruth Wilson (it’s difficult to beat the 2006 Jane Eyre in my mind.)
Rochester (Michael Fassbender): I found him less passionate and more scathing than some past interpretations, but then, I also have a love-hate relationship with this character. The first time I read Jane Eyre, I loved him, but the second time, his obsession with being cleansed by Jane’s innocence hit me. I still have that same discomfort with the concept of purity as something that’s catching.
I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. My favorite scene, by far, was his pleading with Jane after the Great and Dreadful Discovery. In my opinion, none of the other adaptations did as well with that scene as this Jane Eyre.
Complaints (!? Ohnoes !):
The sudden ending disappointed me. I feel that the whole point of the ending was not to say that Jane Eyre had come back to Rochester, but that Rochester’s spirit had been crushed by the whole Catastrophe, but that Jane was able to lead him back to becoming his old self again.
What Took me By Surprise:
Judi Dench gave Mrs. Fairfax some very funny reaction shots! I really enjoyed her part in this. In the scenes she had, she communicated her character’s different layers to the audience, and said more with the lines she had than many other actresses might have done.
Entertaining, definitely gothic, with a few frights – birds flying out of no where, creepy laughs in the hallway – and probably now in my top two favorite Jane Eyre adaptations (again, it really is hard to beat the 2006 television version.)
Clips on Teh Youtube
The After-Fire-And-Rescue Scene
The Confession / The Proposal
The Hypothetical Question
Mrs. Fairfax of Awesome