Sunday, 11 September 2011

Jane Eyre - review

I'm not really a huge fan of period costume dramas. I mean who really wants to watch a movie where Sarah Jessica Parker stresses about what she'll wear during her time of the month? I jest, I jest!
My main dislike for the genre comes from memories of my mum and sister endlessly watching the TV series of Pride & Prejudice when Colin Firth became the nation's heartthrob as Mr Darcy (although I wouldn't rate him as an actor until A Single Man).
In my eyes, period dramas consisted of nothing more than women in tight corsets and men in jodpurs walking wistfully on moors whilst pining for a lost love.
However as a film critic, I should try to put aside personal opinion and view each film with an open mind. And I'm glad I did, as Jane Eyre has a lot going for it.
I'm not one for reading the classics (my favourite book is High Fidelity) and so I wasn't familiar with the story of Jane Eyre but my interest was initially peaked by the first trailer that was released early this year which gave the film a rather mysterious, creepy vibe more akin to The Woman In Black than Pride & Prejudice. The second trailer was a more typical trailer that focused on the love story between Jane and Rochester. Just goes to show what can be achieved through the power of editing!
As expected with this type of film, the cinematography is gorgeous (and yes there are plenty of shots of our two lovebirds out enjoying the scenery), the costume and production design is faultless and there is fine support from Judi Dench and Jamie Bell but what really drew me into the story were the performances of the two leads.
I was very critical of Mia Wasikowska in Alice In Wonderland (as I probably was with everything to do with that film) but after seeing her as Jane Eyre, I'm willing to put that dire performance down to the fact she was overawed by having to act against green screen. She is very reserved and holds her own against the older and formidable Rochester, unwilling to let slip her true feelings which could be her undoing. Her accent is also faultless and is much more impressive than Anne Hathaway's recent attempts in One Day.
The main draw of the film for myself, and for countless women across the land probably, was Michael Fassbender. He stole the show in Inglourious Basterds, did a Christian Bale-style transformation in Hunger and is destined to become a huge star this year thanks to appearing in 100+ films this year and winning Best Actor at Venice yesterday.

His Rochester is smouldering, brooding and aloof. There is a mystery to him and a sense that there is something dangerous under the surface waiting to unleash itself. He reminded me a lot of Laurence Olivier's Maxim De Winter in Hitchcock's Rebecca.
If I was to have one criticism of the film, it is that I would have preffered it to focus more on the mysterious happenings of Thornfield (screams in the night, random fires, etc) than the love story... but that could be down to me being a heartless shell of a man, much like Jane feels Rochester to be initially!

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