‘Do you think me handsome?’ No, and neither does my invisible pet moose – a Review of Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre

In one word, this film was brilliant. In another word… Magneto. ;D

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Love me, Jane, damn you! Love me or I’ll… I’ll lock you in the attic with Bertha!

Ahem… *puts on serious reviewer face*

I know I’m here to talk about the movie, but I have to say a little about the wonderful book it’s based on, or I’ll bust.

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I reckon this poster sums up the simplicity and raw beauty of the movie perfectly.

Let’s get this down flat: I absolutely adore Jane Eyre. I was astonished to discover this while reading the complete and unabridged version of the book. I didn’t think I’d like it, because it is:

1) incredibly long 

2) primarily a romance, and I have an irrational fear of romance novels. (Consider me scarred by Mills and Boon.)

3) it seems to float around in the same literary circle as certain other books I really don’t like… naming no names. Ahemprideandprejudiceahemwutheringheightsahem.

Suffice it to say that it had me utterly gripped from start to finish. It is probably my favourite of all the classic novels I’ve ever read… and in my humble opinion definately trumps *by a zillion miles* the other two of what I like to call ‘The Big Three’ of period romance. You have two guesses.

Literary politics aside, I’m here to review the film, not the book. So I’m going to try really hard not to compare the two, though my expectations for this film were high because of the brilliant reviews, wonderful cast (Judie Dench, Sally Hawkins, Jamie Bell), and the fact that it’s apparently one of the most faithful adaptations ever made.

I was actually lucky enough to go see this on a starry night in the grounds of Sudbury Hall.

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It definitely added to the atmosphere, let me tell you!

My first thought was, hold on a minute, surely Mia Wasikowska’s too pretty to be Jane? And Fassbender? Seriously? Isn’t he just massively too a teensy bit too handsome to play Rochester?

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Casting director: Yeah, but, this is HOLLYWOOD…where EVERYONE is pretty.

I mean, come on, everyone knows that Jane Eyre is supposed to be plain, and that Mr Rochester isn’t supposed to be handsome in the slightest. Can’t they even get that right? Honestly, at least in the BBC adaptation I’ve seen of Jane Eyre, they got it right and found some really unnapealing lead actors…

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…OH, WAIT…

(I watched in anticipation of what they would do to ‘uglyfy’ the leads. They gave Wasikowska a terrible hair cut and some boring dresses, and Fassbender just got a terrible haircut.)

The reason this movie was so brilliant was that it was all about supressed emotions. This was partly down to the wonderful acting and dialogue, and partly down to the skilled camerawork. This movie wasn’t just a fun movie to watch; it was fantastically well made. The understated shots of the bleak, barren moors, the subdued colours, the long periods of no dialogue, Jane’s silent tears, they all added to the undercurrents of passion which simmered just beneath the surface of the entire film.

As it turned out, my sister and I were so engrossed that we actually forgot our plan to start humming the dubstep part of the X-men First Class theme when Mr Rochester came on.

So, now for the characters in the film – I can honestly say that all the lead parts were brilliant.

I utterly adored Jane – while she seemed quite and demure, this disguises an intelligence and wit. Jane is a woman of incredibly strong will, the 19th century version of a bad ass herione. Though she’s trapped in the role of a governess, she longs to be independent, free and strong. She says as much, and the expression of her face as she watches Mr Rochester march around his house, doing what the heck he likes like the Boss that he is, is one of pure envy. Her performance is understated yet she conveyed huge amounts of emotion – she was brilliant. There were moments, such as the death of Helen, and when she takes off her wedding dress, that I was crying along with her.

Mr Rochester was suitably brooding for most of the film, though this isn’t really his fault, because he has a mad wife in the attic. Normally, this would annoy me, but there was something touching and sensitive about the way he and Jane interacted, and I really empathised with him. He’s a douche for trying to marry Jane while he’s still, er, in a relationship on Facebook, and he was cruelly standoffish around her when Blanche turned up, but I genuinly rooted for him and Jane. You could tell he really cared underneath his mardy exerior, and this was entirely due to the quality of Fassbender’s acting.

Jamie Bell as Sinjin was brilliant – Sinjin is an utter twit for throwing a way his chance of happiness with the girl he loves, and Bell portrayed this extremely well with his stilted speech, and his awkwardness around Jane. There was also a lot of fire there I wasn’t expecting, when she decides to return to Thornfield, he loses his cool and it’s absolutely terrifying – it was also the most explosive display of emotion in the entire film. Though for a moment this meant it didn’t feel quite right with me, it brought again to light the huge contrast between what the characters are saying, and their tortured feelings behind.

Judi Dench’s matronly housekeeper actually provided a bit of comic relief in the film, she was warm and becomes almost a mother figure to Jane. Though she keeps herself apart from the relationship between the governess and her master, she can’t help but worry for the safety of both parties involved. Romy Settbon More’s Adele was spoilt, charming and completely disarming, and Sally Hawkin’s Aunt Reed was subtely and bizarrely scary, hiding an evil stepmother behind the mask of a beautiful lady. The child actors in the film were also extremely affecting, most notably Jane’s friend Helen, who stole the few scenes she appeared in.

 

Now for the romance:

Mr Rochester meets his match in Jane, who refuses to be sidelined or patronised, and as their relationship slowly progresses from guarded insults, to amusing and touching banter, and finally to love, you can’t help rooting for them. They make a wonderful couple – they understand eachother down to their very souls and complement, or even complete, eachother. Yes, that was over the top, but allow me this one moment of melodrama. 😉

They don’t get off to the best start, it has to be said.

‘Do you think me handsome?’ Rochester asks.

‘No,’ Jane replies.

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Not only this hippo, but every alive member of the audience, begged to differ.

It  was their exchanges like these that drew me to both the characters, and got me caught up in the romance. Ah, here was another thing Rochester said I couldn’t help snorting at:

‘I know that I am no more handsome than you are beautiful…’ he says.

SORRY didn’t quite catch you there Mr Rochester… I was distracted by the herd of flying pigs going past the window…

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Trolololol

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olololol

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olololol!

Anyroad, moving swiftly onwards…

Now, this is the part where I digress wildly and start taking the mick in earnest! 😀

Mr Rochester’s Beard and other Hairy Scarys

I wondered how they were going to ‘injure’ Mr Rochester after the fire, as in the book he gets him arm all withered. However, chopping the limbs off Hollywood’s current golden boy must not be allowed, because what they went for was this:

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On anyone else, I would have been laughing my head off at this delightful aquisition to their facial hair. Inexplicably however, Fassbender pulled it off. Though I couldn’t help thinking that his final kiss with Jane must have been horrendously prickly. All that beard. Urgh.

I also just have to draw attention to Blance Ingram because really, what on earth was wrong with her hair? Not to mention clothes…

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This isn’t what it looks like, Jane… Honest! Even though I’m only holding a feather…

I’m taking this opportunity to bitch about Blance, because she made some horrible catty remarks about my lovely Jane. Therefore it is my solemn duty to humiliate her to her fictional grave.

I was also mildly disappointed by Jane’s wedding get up.

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I guess it was on purpose, to make her seem young and out of place – and I’ve no idea what weddings really looked like at that time – but still, I’d been hoping she’d let her hair down.

A Few Random Cameos

One of Britain’s rising young talents, someone who after years I still only know as ‘Robin from Young Dracula’, entered the film as John Reed, to be promptly beaten up by mini-Jane. Oh wait, his name is Craig Roberts.

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One of Sinjin’s sisters is Holliday Grainger, someone I’m fairly confident I recognise from the (thankfully short-lived) ITV show ‘Demons’. She was also in Merlin, Robin Hood and an ancient episode of MIHigh – the BBC like to recycle actors. 😉

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The reason I’ve put in this little random section is, I admit, purely an excuse to fangirl…

Imagine my internal squeals of joy, when half way through the movie none other than Harry Lloyd turned up! In fact you don’t need to imagine them; here they are: Squeeee!

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His photo is extra big…because of reasons.

He played the mad wife’s brother – you know, the one who ruins Jane and Rochester’s happiness, and fulfils my life’s ambition to run down an aisle at a wedding yelling ‘I object!’ Well, he doesn’t quite do that, but it has the same effect.

So what if he only had three scenes, for one of which he was drooling on a bed with a big chunk having been bitten out of his chest by vampire-Bertha. Maybe you’ll understand my excitement if I tell you there’s been a poster of him on my wall since I was fourteen. That’s right, Game of Thrones fans, yours truly here saw him FIRST. 😛

Random Harry Lloyd trivia: he’s descended from Charles Dickens, and he went to Eton, yes, James Bond and top hats Eton. As did, coincidentally, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne.

Eton, it appears, is the place to be if you wish to become an actor nowadays. I bet there’s a Posh Eton Actors club somewhere…! That must be so epic: Harry will be trying to take over the world in a silver wig, while Eddie blubs into camera close ups of his face, and Tom runs around playing pranks on everyone yelling ‘LOKI’D!’

I’m going to find it…and stalk it…. eheheheh.

>:D

And on that exceedingly immature note… I end this review. ;D What did you think of this version of Jane Eyre? Was it worthy of the novel – or did you hate the novel? Whatever you think I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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