Jane Eyre - 26th March 2011

I have a confession to make: I am not much of a reader.
I used to be, growing up I read a lot and now I will read biographies and the occasional novel but since I discovered movies I am afraid I am a watcher and a writer, not so much a reader.
So ask me to tell you the difference between Charlotte, Anne or Emily Bronte and I'd be stumped. I don't even know how I know their names, or know they wrote books, or know which books they wrote, I probably saw it in a movie once.

I am afraid my male Neanderthaloid mentality tends to throw your Pride & Prejudices, The Tess of the D'urbervilles of this world and the Jane Eyre's all into their own sack, much like now one might assume Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and The Sookie Stackhouse books are all the same and to some extent, if I am to be perfectly honest, to me they are but if we were talking about the well respected TV & film adaptations of the first three and the laughable and bemusing TV & film adaptations of the last three then I would be able to clearly see the sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle differences between the styles. It's just the way my mind is wired I guess.

So when the Misses said she wanted to go and see this, having seen the trailer I have to say I was sort of intrigued as it played up the darker, edgier sides of the story but also, like anyone who grew up and started dating in England post 'the Colin Firth Pride & Prejudice BBC adap' knows, as filled with dread as you might be to sit through hours of the costume drama abyss, if you want to keep your woman on your side and happy it is something you just have to do.

I have noticed since writing this blog that I am more likely to have my hopes dashed by a film I had high expectations for than I am likely to be disappointed by one I have no expectations for. This may sound obvious but what I mean is, when I either don't know what to expect, or when I am simply not expecting anything I very often have a much better time at the cinema. Such was the case here.
I will enjoy the experience of being at the cinema I thought, what happens on the screen I will enjoy for films sake if nothing else. Luckily this would be easy for two reasons: one, our cinema round the corner has a phenomenally good high def digital screen that you could project sick on to and it would look good (projectile vomit if you will) and two, Jane Eyre wasn't bad, wasn't bad at all.

I am assuming everyone but me knows the plot to Jane Eyre already but basically it's to do with this brighter than average girl who has a horrible upbringing, goes to a very harsh school, eventually grows up and wants more for herself, gets placed at the large house of a well-to-do business man, as the governess to a little french girl, meets rich man, falls for him, he falls for her but he has a dark secret that threatens to keep them apart for ever.

I haven't seen other adaptions but this one played up the misery, the abuse, the underlying mystery, the dark side of the story and also the creative and sexual repression of the time while highlighting the Jane Eyre's education, desire to break free from society's trappings and the quick witted nature of her and her master's exchanges.
What was very nice is that there seemed to be no attempt to tone down or slow done the antiquated yet eloquent speech patterns the character's conversed in and while it wasn't necessarily as dense and occasional impenetrable as something like Shakespeare might be for a modern, youthful or American audience ears, it was at time very quick fire and full of imagery that was beautiful to hear and refreshing that the writer, director and producers actually had faith in their crowd.

So the direction and shooting of the piece was just lovely and made me think over and over that really, recently, the films I have been watching have, for the most part been just stunningly beautiful. It's nice to know that the films that obviously compete with the 3D super hero movies do so by quite simply making their 2D images look absolutely incredible. Like I said, the screen I saw this on is fantastically crisp and so every bit of contrast, every colour palette, every bit of weather and every corner of the grounds of the castle and the castle itself were just an unbelievable treat for the eyes. Here's hoping tremendous cinematography is the way of the future and 3D goes the way of Vanilla Ice.

The acting was uniformly good too with the two leads building up pretty staggering chemistry and tension, both equally at home with the fizzing repartee that any woman wiser than her station and land owner who can't keep his eye off young bits of stuff, in these sorts of films, rattle off effortlessly and almost as everyday speech.
There was a sort of, almost confused or hurt to tears expression that Mia Wasikowska did in order to convey her disdain for being treated as an inferior, or her rebellious nature against him courting another woman etc. that started to get a bit on my nerves the 58th time she used it but basically she does a solid job and her English accent was pretty spot on too.
In the role of Rochester, easy, initially, I would imagine, to make  Mr.Darcy clone, Fassbender, who just about resists this urge, wasn't bad either and did the desperately crazed and lovesick stuff pretty well. Jamie Bell needs to stop looking 12 in order to convince in the part as, despite a recognisably good turn, I didn't believe him at all in this character and finally Judi Dench who has it written into her contract and probably sewed into her rented BBC bloomers that she legally has to appear in these sorts of adaptations. The part here as head of the staff of the house was no great stretch or shakes for the seasoned professional stylings of The Dench and the odd humourous or motherly turns she has in this, are carried off seemingly effortlessly and totally flawlessly.

All in all then an enjoyable, quite pacey in places, adaptation of an old costume drama fan favourite with the twist being that not just fans will enjoy it. Don't move along, there is lots to see here!

7 out of 10 crusts of oaty bread and the thin soup servants get before the master falls for them and proposes. After that one gets whole pickled moose and swan on toast.
Points from The Wife 8 out of 10


Paul - 27th March 2011

How Do You Know - 24th March 2011