I’m not sure why the cinema keeps returning to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Yes, I know it’s a classic gothic romance and it probably isn’t a bad idea to reintroduce the story to a new generation every now and again. But if a new perspective can’t be brought to the story, then why bother? It isn’t that Cary Fukunaga’s new version isn’t any good – in fact it does many things well – it’s that it doesn’t seem all that necessary. Retelling the Bronte tale with a close eye to authenticity to the text, the film covers all of the high points very well but lacks anything distinctive to make it worth looking at more than once.
Mia Wasikowska takes on the title role and she has the look of a beleaguered waif who’s been fate’s plaything. Cast out of her home, forced to live in a prison-like school, she finds herself with a position at Thornfield Hall, teaching the young lady of the estate. Run by the often-absent Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender), the mansion is a rather creepy abode in which spirits may walk the halls at night. It is not a place that one would call inviting. But soon Jane makes herself indispensable to Rochester and it looks as if she might finally find happiness when they agree to marry. But, the secrets of Thornfield threaten to tear them apart.
Fukunaga does a fine job of tapping into the story’s gothic roots, generating a palpable sense of eeriness and dread. The two leads do a fine job in their roles, yet together they create nary a spark. This is compounded by the fact that little seems to happen between their initial meeting and Rochester’s declaration of passion for Jane. So little occurs between them that I thought he was speaking of another character I might have missed when I stepped out for popcorn. The leaps of logic required to accept this relationship are too much to swallow, which is too bad as the film has so much going for it except the romance. Too bad that happens to be a vital element where effective love stories are concerned.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at email@example.com.