I've just finished a book that I've decided not to blog about and have just begun another read, so I would have to think back on past reads for any book review postings. Instead, I've decided to write a little about the new movie version of Jane Eyre I watched this weekend. Like many others, I have seen mulitple productions of this classic story and a few elements can elevate this story to great heights or lower it to a disappointing waste of time. I would rate this newest retelling as high middle ground.
First what I liked. Jane, played by Mia Wasikowska has the right looks and correct demeanor. She is attractive, but it is clear that she is NOT the beauty that Miss Ingraham is. She has that governess look that would make her susceptible to Rochester's attention, yet she has a definite independent streak. Her vulnerability and strength are both believable. Also well executed, is the setting - all aspects of it, from the aunt's estate and the boarding school, to Thornfield and then the small village of the missionary - will take the viewer out of the twenty-first century to another time. Shadows and light are an integral part of the story told without words. Naturally candlelight was the mode of artifical light in that time period, but its use throughout the film underscores the secrets at Thornfield and the coming fire. A good attempt by the director.
But not all in the movie is excellent. Although I found the "literate" dialogue fit the concept of Jane
Eyre, the romance between Rochester and Jane was never totally believable for me. I have seen Rochester portrayed as "tortured" and as "weary," but this time he just seemed ornery and unlikeable. Despite liking the physical setting and the predominance of candle light, the actual scenes foreshadowing Betha's existence just fell flat, as did Bertha herself. No way did I see or sense madness, and that burden of her madness must be believed if the viewer is going to accept Rochester as a hero.
I am not sure what a viewer who has never read the novel or who has never seen another version would take away from this movie. I guess I would encourage them to see (or read) at least two versions within a short time period. Perhaps multiple interpretations would help build a strong personal sense of this classic.