JANE EYRE, Cary Fukunaga (2011)
First of all, Happy New Year. I’ve never been in mood for resolutions, because I don’t accomplish half of them, thus what I can say is that I will try to be posting at least once a month. Too many things in my head, writing on movies require certain concentration I sometimes lack of. Sorry!
Still having some films I’d like to talk about, but I’m going to start this year 2012, with this movie, I went to see last night, on my own, while it’s still fresh in my mind, and all the feelings and emotions provoked, are still pounding.
If you are familiar with The Brontë’s novels, then you already know their stories are characterized by portraying tortuous and stormy love stories, in which society conventions have a very important role, so as the nature environment.
I was ready for the drama, really, I don’t consider myself a weak and super sensitive girl who always cries at the movies, but I wasn’t expecting such intensity in this film as to end up crying nonstop. Never left a cinema with tears in my eyes until last night, and believe me, they weren’t caused by disappointment at all. Jane Eyre is pure poetry.
Life had never been merciful towards Jane Eyre since she became an orphan and was supposedly under Mrs. Reed’s care. Rejected and abused by the members of the family, she’s eventually cast out and sent to Lowood School to be straightened up. Hard discipline, with beating punishment, miserable living conditions, lacking any expression of affection, will mark her life forever, but Jane, as a rebel character, will develop an inner creative world she will portrait in her paintings.
Once her stay in Lowood is over, Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) will have to work for living, she’ll move to Thornfield Hall, working as a governess of a little French girl, Adele, apparently adopted by Edward Fairfax Rochester (Michael Fassbender), due to some kind of former relationship.
These days are the closest to happiness for Jane, teaching her pupil, enjoying the company of Mrs Fairfax (Judi Dench), the housekeeper, receiving kindness and affection. Until the landlord of the estate arrives to settle temporarily at the mansion.
Edward Rochester is the first male contact to Jane, and initially is not a very pleasant one. He’s a strong character, very moody, strong, rough, who spreads some kind of vice and corruption, completely alien to the young teacher. Still, Jane is not overwhelmed by such destructive personality, and with all the respect, she manages to earn her landlord’s respect, and complicity.
One night, Jane is awaken by the feeling of a presence by her bedroom door, and weird noises. Alerted, she discovers Rochester’s room is on fire, and she will save his life by waking him up and trying to stop the fire. The landlord’s attitude, fully in debt with the governess, will radically change, he trying to earn her body, and soul, something she will initially reject, confused about her feelings and his intentions.
Thus, a tense friendship among them will go on, with Fairfax flirting with Mrs Ingram, and Jane silently feeling tortured, because she doesn’t believe herself worth enough for the gentleman’s love.
Inevitably, once Jane receives the sad news of his beloved engagement to the superficial lady, all the cards on the table, Fairfax will declare his wish of sharing his life with her, and she will finally accept. Unfortunately, the terrible secret he’s been hiding from her all this time, will bring out just about to get married, and Jane will run away from Thornfield Hall, completely devastated, to be sheltered and adopted as a new member of the family, by the young Rivers. But she will be unable to forget who she’s devoted to.
Long sight right now while writing these lines, friends. It is really a sad story, which nowadays, with law adapted to modern times, and women stepping upwards at all levels, after a really long struggle our generation is not really aware of, perhaps could be sorted out easily. Not in that time though, when women were 100 steps behind men, and they couldn’t even freely think, nor act, and even less live.
The director, Cary Fukunaga, knew from the very beginning how to depict Jane Eyre. Not following the current canons of beauty, he looked for a cold and fragile character, still strong as a consequence of the tough times she had to pass through in her childhood. Mia Wasikowska is a gorgeous actress, capable of transmit so many emotions at just a glance, she’s just stunning at her role of Eyre. Really impressive! Those moments, subject to Fairfax’ pressure, when he’s trying to seduce her in the beginning, to finally fall in love with her, are so intense, so emotionally loaded, and she stands firm, because she doesn’t want to lose her freedom, she doesn’t want to endure more pain than is normal, and although she would give him absolutely everything he’d ask, she needs that security, a vicious character as Edward couldn’t ever provide.
What can I say regarding Fassbender? Let’s leave the hot part aside, I’m trying to be objective here. Up to date, I cannot find any weak point to his performance, and definitely he’s to be one of the greatest actors of this new decade, I’m positive. Related to his role as Edward Fairfax Rochester, he’s also fascinating. The strength and manhood he spreads, his strong and vicious character willing to be tamed by the innocence and purity Jane, seeking for an act of kindness which he thinks that will free him from his terrible burden, is just awesome. Passion is the engine of his life, but rejection is something he cannot deal with quite well. Thus, if Jane is not to be by his side, Mrs Ingram will entertain and exploit his superficial side, so he won’t be alone.
St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell) is just the opposite to Rochester. On one hand he doesn’t conceive women as equals, and on the other, love issue is a weakness, and he doesn’t not tolerate feelings and passion over pragmatism, tradition nor manners. His intentions towards Jane are too honest, but how can he conquer her after the romance, and its consequent pains she’s been living with her former employer? Jane wants freedom, no matter her life can be miserable.
It’s also remarkable the importance of nature in the film, from the weather to the thick and scary woods, including the palette of tones and shadings applied. Forces of nature really had relevance in the Brontë’s universe. The darkest moments Jane passes through, are enhanced by the rough weather, especially in the beginning, when she’s getting away from Thornfield Hall, unable to stand by Edward, after his terrible secret is reveiled. She’s devastated and heart broken. The storm is full of rage, almost killing her. Lowood is dark and grey, so is her life. But when everything seems to be going well for her, the warmth also accompanies her state. Despite the age of the mansion, she feels fine with the life she’s having, enjoying teaching Adele, and the friendship of Mrs Fairfax, and the hearth provides such smooth atmosphere.
Both the woods and the mansion suffer a transformation when the master arrives. The woods, covered with thick fog and humidity, is the place where their first encounter occurs, the difficult visibility causes Rochester’s horse gets wild, him falling and twisting his ankle. And regarding the mansion, all of a sudden a strange and uneasy atmosphere is perceived by Jane. It’s as if the place was not safe any longer, and some kind of danger was about to happen anytime.
Thus, the characters, the houses, the nature, the lights and tones… everything is masterly put together in order to offer an adaptation of one of the most popular classic novels of British literature, enhancing this tortuous and painful story of love, and avoiding superficial and ostentatious resources, making of this, a direct, stunning and brilliant film.
Believe me when I reckon, it’s been too long time since I haven’t felt so many emotions thanks to a film. You might think it’s a movie for women, perhaps it is, but I really insist, it’s worth seeing.