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Jane Eyre
Genre Romance

This film adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's literary classic is haunting, beautiful and moving. Director, Cary Fukunaga, envisioned a darker retelling of this Gothic romantic drama, which until now has generally been depicted as another period piece romance. As such, the Gothic elements from the novel have been emphasised in this film adaptation.
Fukunaga chose to shoot Jane Eyre in Northern England, where the moors, foliage and landscapes provide an iconic backdrop, one that would usually be associated with a Tim Burton film. The twisted trees, misty burroughs and unpredictable weather are moody and fit in perfectly with the film's dark atmosphere. The score and setting conjure up the perfect climate for a Victorian era horror, keeping a sense of mystery and tension.

Jane Eyre echoes horror, while ironically it's preoccupied with love and independence in it's social commentary on women. Jane Eyre, the novel, is recognised as an early cornerstone of feminist literature. Bronte has portrayed Jane as a strong, independent woman. Her representation of determination and individuality are seen as before their time. This is possibly why the film is so relevant for today's audiences. Instead of floundering and harping on her suitor's every whim, Jane is content with being the person she wants to be.

Mia Wasikowska delivers an enigmatic performance, which best encapsulates her character without betraying her feminity. Fukunaga has purposefully downplayed Wasikowska's beauty in favour of a ghostly, blank and plain look. This enhances Wasikowska's performance, her face is fascinating with audiences unable to distinguish whether she's beautiful or not. Her ghostly complexion adds to the tone of the film and allows her to perform without being self-conscious. Comparing her title character in Burton's Alice in Wonderland with Jane Eyre are like night and day, introducing a very different Wasikowska. Naturally a melancholic blend of Gwyneth Paltrow and Claire Danes with a Samantha Morton quality, she's destined for greatness.

She's supported by Michael Fassbender as Rochester, who delivers an equally complex performance to counterbalance and complement Wasikowska. Rochester exhibits qualities of The Beast from Beauty & The Beast. He's a shady love interest, whose dark side creates a weighty contrast to the lighter aura of Eyre. Both strong, intelligent and independent characters, it's a fiery, powerful romance when the two make their intentions known. Fassbender stamps his name on the list of fine Rochester portrayals alongside William Hurt and Orson Welles.

Other supporting actors include Judi Dench and Jamie Bell, who provide stoic performances in secondary roles. Perhaps more screen time would have given them a chance to contend with Wasikowska's sterling turn as Eyre. A solid ensemble effort, it's the strong Gothic elements of the production and Fukunaga's clear vision that turn Jane Eyre into a hauntingly beautiful adaptation of Bronte's time-honoured romance drama. Laden with artistic merit, great depth of emotion, a taut atmosphere, an eerie setting, a haunting score, beautiful costumes, clarity of direction and fine performances - it's a memorable period piece classic.

The bottom line: Haunting.

8.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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