Monday, September 26, 2011

Mixed Feelings: Jane Eyre (2011)

I finally today watched the 2011 version of Jane Eyre, with Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Rochester. I have a hard time deciding my full thoughts on it, so I will go point by point.

I didn't like the changing of timing the movie experimented with, putting Jane's departure from Thornfield (which it seems filmmakers like messing with) as the opening scene. It turned out okay overall, but I found it unnecessary to edit it together like this.

It begins to seem to me that the casting directors also have fun casting Helen--this Helen also had that "look" that makes her Helen. It was nice (I know, this sounds bad, but you know what I mean) to see the scene where Helen is beaten--this is a moment that shows simultaneously the harshness/cruelty of the school and Helen's attitude/life philosophy/humility.

Basically the only thing I had heard before watching the movie was that the filmmakers wanted to express the Gothic element of the book, which is great to hear after finding that element so lacking in the 1996 version. But it was there in the 2006, so I can't say I was overly impressed by it in here. But it wasn't bad.

I didn't like Adele. I just didn't like her. I didn't like the look of the girl cast (for the role, I mean, of course), and I didn't like that she always spoke in French that was always captioned in English. I did, however, find the scenes of Jane with Adele rather interesting, the way Jane talks to her. It was also a nice introduction to the gytrash when Jane was telling Adele the story soon before the first encounter with Rochester.

And, ah, yes, Rochester. I have some comments on him. I didn't like him much. Mostly, he just seemed like a bad casting choice. First, I thought he seemed too young, with not enough lines in his face (Rochester, has both years and troubles to add lines to his face); looking his age up after the movie, I found that I was right in judging him too young (I don't want to be too strict, but no one would want to cast a thirty year old as Jane, right?--age matters to a degree). He also didn't give the right complement to Jane. Michael and Mia had chemistry onscreen, but it was not of the Jane and Rochester sort. Rochester wasn't the old, teasing grump he tends to be--he seemed too flat to me.

But I must say that I got ridiculously happy in the first formal meeting between the two, when Rochester says that Jane must have been waiting for "her people" when she scared his horse--this moment has both the fairy element and the teasing element, yet I have never seen it in film. Wonderful to finally.

And now on to Mia. I had seen her, like everyone else, in Alice in Wonderland. But I so thoroughly dislike that movie. I find it boring and uninteresting. Well-done by certain accounts, but also so lacking. And the character Mia plays there is, well, the blank canvas on which everything else happens. I was so scared to see a blank Jane next.

The opening scenes with the Rivers family didn't show me much, but once we got on to Thornfield, oh, I found myself so surprised and rather amazed at times. She combined traits from both of the other performance I've seen: the reigned-in sense and a more emotional side under the surface. She, I think, conveyed the sense that she remains composed because she has to in the roles she is in--governesses are not supposed to speak too much. Not to say I found her performance perfect, no, but she did quite well.

I wasn't satisfied by the way the engagement scene played out; it just happened. It didn't go right emotionally.

Bertha wasn't conveyed right. I don't mean in the moment we actually see her: that was fine. But I didn't get the sense of the way Rochester is constantly running from his house that she is in. Nor so much of Jane's reaction.

I have to give a note on St. John. He was interesting to me from the start, and I'm still not sure exactly why. Maybe because he was different from how I've seen him before. I just wish, I think, that we could have had a little more time to develop points in his character--his sense that he acts as he should for God's will, but also the sense that he goes too far ascetically. And where was Miss Oliver? Her presence means so much, surely she could've had a brief appearance, even if it's just so that we can all laugh at St. John's reaction to her.

In the final scene, there wasn't quite enough conversation between Jane and Rochester. In fact, there was hardly any. And it was all in one place, just one meeting and then the end of the movie. That didn't feel like enough. I didn't feel like they had grown. It was just as if their outer circumstances were finally letting them get together. Where was the depth of it? When a movie doesn't end as you like, that can give a bad coloring to the whole thing. I find myself feeling similar to the 2006: the middle section was better, but as the movie went on, my interest started to dwindle.

Oh, and I wasn't a big fan of the music. It at least had some uniqueness, but I still didn't feel like it set the right tone. It was too yellow, not emotionally trembling enough.

I fear I have so many negative thoughts on this movie. But it was good; really, they did get things right, probably more than some of the other versions I'll be getting to next. But my first adaptation love is still my favorite: to the 2006 I will still give my greatest loyalty.

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