Plot: A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he's hiding a terrible secret.
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Writers: Charlotte Brontë (novel), Moira Buffini (screenplay)
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell
Redemption through love
"Listen to me. Listen. I could bend you with my finger and my thumb. A mere reed you feel in my hands. But whatever I do with this cage, I cannot get at you, and it is your soul that I want. Why can't you come of your own free will?"
At least once a year the British release cinematic gem in the world - this year it's "Jane Eyre". Brand new version of Charlotte Bronte's novel delivers not only beautiful cinematography and fantastic acting but also this unique brand of magic - subtle, delicate, yet at the same time dark and profoundly mysterious.
Having seen four parts of BBC's series based on the book the only thing that felt underwhelming was the feeling that ties Rochester and Jane. It felt a bit rushed, yet it works if you suspend your belief for a moment and try to put yourself in characters' shoes. Rochester never met anyone like Jane before and Jane was never treated that kindly and as an equal. First they form the partnership, mutual respect and at the same time - mostly thanks to Fassbender's magnetism - sparks fly out between them. You can feel Jane's agony when she is forced to leave him to save herself.
It's when Jane leaves things slow down, but that has nothing to do with the script – the continuation of the story is the same as in the novel and was necessary to show that even if the time passes by the fire between Jane and Rochester is far from being extinguished.
Dario Marinelli's score, while decent and accompanying the picture quite well is extremely forgettable, unlike marvelous cinematography which captures both Rochester's darkness and Jane's happiness as she falls deeper and deeper in love with him. Beautiful shots of Rochester and Jane filmed both when they are alone and when they are surrounded by people help the actors establish that Jane and Rochester stand alone in the world – he is too damaged to blend in with the others, he despises the people whom he invites to his parties, he is bitter, cynical and he knows women adore him because of his fortune. Jane on the other hand while having amazing mind and strong opinions is just a governess, without fortune, relatives or beauty. They are both outsiders and they feel comfortable only when they are with each other.
Mia Wasikowska is perfect choice for Jane - attractive but certainly not conventionally pretty yet possessing great confidence and pride. That pride is one thing that will stand between Jane and Rochester - not his dark past - they could have lived despite that, but Jane chose her values instead. As with most of classic love stories this one is filled with tragedies, the time the lovers spend apart, repressed sexuality - portrayed even more so than in previous version, the scene where Rochester begs Jane to stay not only breaks your heart but the proximity of them and the wall of conventions and restrictions between them is almost tangible. The story has very bittersweet ending that left me feeling more bitter than sweet - all this time they lost and all those things that they will never get back, all because of past mistakes and the era they lived in.
Main performances easily overshadow everyone else in fantastic cast including Judi Dench and Jaime Bell. Especially Fassbender, who this year simply excels in playing characters with painful past, captures the attention of the viewer – you never know what he might do next, you have no idea whether he genuinely cares for Jane or if he's cruelly toying with her. Not until he collapses and on his knees he bares his soul to her. It's almost funny the only thing that is wrong with his performance are his looks – in the book Rochester was ugly, in the movie...well, he's pretty damn far from that.
The film while feeling a little bit rushed is very faithful to the novel and although I wished they kept some of the scenes in – like the one that shows Rochester's past instead having him explain what happened, in literally, 3 lines of dialogue – the movie is certainly beautiful and although it has only three kissing scenes it is filled with genuine passion and chemistry of the leads.