Charlotte Brontë’s best-known work, the moody, broody Jane Eyre, is no stranger to the screen. In fact, that may actually be an understatement. A quick glance at IMDB shows over 20 film projects of that name, and never mind entries that might be “based on” or “inspired by.”
With that in mind, the news that yet another film based on Brontë’s perennial favorite has opened is hardly earth-shattering.
All of that said, this latest film by indie sensation, 33-year-old Cary Fukunaga (Victoria para Chino, Sin hombre) looks to be a worthwhile entry into the ever-growing catalog of Eyres.
At a glance, one of the interesting aspects of this Jane Eyre is the rising sensation aspect of many of the major players. Fukunaga, of course, is a relative newcomer, and while insiders are watching this first major feature with interest, few beyond a select clique have even heard his name.
Moira Buffini, who wrote the screenplay, has likewise done some interesting work, but not a lot of it, with a UK romantic comedy called Tamara Drewe from last year the only recent highlight.
Even the principal stars, Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, are relative newcomers. Fassbender will be most familiar to viewers from 2009’s Inglourious Basterds (though get used to his mug: you’re going to be seeing a lot more of him over the next year). And while Wasikowska is very young and relatively new, filmgoers saw her in two Oscar-nominated films from last year: the Australian actress was the title character in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and the likable girl-child in The Kids Are All Right.
Interestingly this new Jane Eyre, which opened in the U.S. on Friday, is moving many reviewers to purple prose. Here, for instance, SFGate:
In a similar way, this latest adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë novel is careful, respectful and even enjoyable, and yet dry, singularly humorless and played without the lavishness of spirit that makes sense of Gothic melodrama. The essence of the Gothic, after all, is in its suggestion of the nightmare, the primitive and the Id, and of pent-up, bottled-up sexuality. These are hinted at in architecture but usually expressed more fully and dramatically by the sky and the elements.
And this, from News in Film:
This is a restrained and mostly quiet film adaptation, but director Cary Fukunaga doesn’t shy away from the book’s grimmer aspects. He explicitly depicts the deplorable treatment of Eyre through her childhood and boarding school days. Later in the film, suspense is maximized during several eerie candlelit sequences featuring Eyre investigating the strange rumblings. There are even a couple of effective and unexpected jump scares.
Bottom line, I think, after reading the reviews: Brontë-enthusiasts will not want to take any of these as read: go see the film for yourself. If nothing else, Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre seems like a worthwhile addition to a huge catalog.