Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, and Judi Dench
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre)
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements including a nude image and brief violent content
Appropriate for ages 10+
Charlotte Bronte’s haunting Victorian tale of love and loss is seeing its umpteenth version with this new vision of the classic book. This time out, Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska is the the brooding Jane, an abused girl that makes it out of her hellish upbringing only to have her heart broken by the virtues of her day, and Inglourious Basterds’ Michael Fassbender as her employer hiding a terrible secret that will deeply hurt them both.
The story itself is too well known for the production to be original, but I think that possibly the filmmakers wanted to create a rendition of the story for those not familiar with the original book or movies and who have a clean slate to work upon. In this case, the movie is extremely successful. The screenplay is well enough constructed as to allow the viewer a different spin on the same subject.
Much like the recent Pride and Prejudice, magnificently directed by Joe Wright, the movie attempts to use a mix of story, sight and sound to create a breathtaking two hours of entertainment. The ingredients were all there to create another Victorian masterpiece, but unfortunately the pieces of the puzzle didn’t fit together well. Each part works by itself. The acting is superb by the extremely talented cast and the scene direction works well for the picture. Also of note is the lovely cinematography by Adriano Goldman (City of Men) whose use of shadow and fog combined with the beauty of the English countryside deserve recognition.
But where the film doesn’t work is that a lovely score by Oscar winning composer Dario Marianelli is buried beneath the other layers. Rather than opening it up and allowing it to breath, the music sits in the background, stifled and censored. I sensed there was a good score, and therefore bought the CD the next day to see if I was correct. What I heard was a gorgeous piece of music that really could have been the star of the film. Imagine Pride and Prejudice without the iconic scene where Keira Knightly stands at the edge of the cliff with the wind and the music blowing wildly. For me, these kinds of moments can make a film and leave a lasting impression on my heart and mind. Jane Eyre could have had wonderful moments such as this, and was in possession of all of the right ingredients, but chose not to follow the recipe. B+