Jane Eyre was one of the most anticipated films of 2011, esp. for fans of Brit Lit (like me). It was directed by a young American, Cary Fukunaga, who gives it a fresh new take. (His mom is Swedish; his dad is Japanese). Fukunaga doesn’t stray far from the book, as I thought he might from the early trailers. The supernatural elements were edited out (check out the deleted scenes under the special features).
Though I feel that Charlotte Gainsbourg (who can act in English and French) was the best Jane, I liked the very realistic take of young Australian actress, Mia Wasikowska. Gainsbourg showed us Jane’s “unearthly” side; Wasikowska is JUST the right age for the role. She’s able to convey Jane’s brainy, observant, and innocent sides quite easily.
Every Jane MUST have her Rochester, of course! Gainsbourg had veteran American actor William Hurt (who I ALWAYS enjoy watching). However, Hurt was too old for the role, and played up the angry/emotional side a BIT too much. The newest Mr. Rochester is more of a fresh face (still in his mid-30s)- Irish actor Michael Fassbender. (His mom is Irish; dad is German.) I had never seen him before, BUT heard some rave reviews of his acting in the past few months.
Wow, those critics and viewers were NOT exaggerating! Fassbender is an AMAZING Rochester- “changeable,” articulate, intelligent, tortured, etc. He’s intense w/o being over the top (which is easy to do w/ such a larger-than-life character). Being an internal actor, it looks easy onscreen. (Soon, I’m going to check out two of his older films that are streaming on Netflix now, Fishtank and Hunger). My only complaint- he’s TOO handsome for this role. A star is discovered!
Yes, Billy Elliott is in this movie! Jamie Bell in ALL grown up (and ADORABLE); he plays St. John Rivers, the young/repressed minister who helps Jane get on her feet after her cruel disappointment. Bell does a fine job in his role, as do the two actresses that play his little sisters. Judy Dench, who plays the housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax, is very understated (as the role requires).
I didn’t think the going back and forth in time was as effective as it could have been. My mom and one of her friends (an avid moviegoer) said the same thing. The lighting was (intentionally) dark indoors, playing up the dark side of Thornfield. On the other hand, the outdoor scenes are lovelier and lighter. A good touch in this production was the use of Northern accents (accurate for some characters, like Jane). I loved all the costumes; they were just terrific, esp. on Fassbender’s lean (an European ideal) physique.