Jane Eyre Cary Fukunaga

Jane Eyre Cary Fukunaga
In truth, only the British understand what it is about a corset drama that makes it work. It's something about the repressed passions and martyrdom typical of the genre that only they manage to capture in such a simultaneously heightened and subdued regard. The French always try to deconstruct or subvert the genre, which can work in a Brechtian sense, but tends to miss the point of the appeal, much like the Americans, who tend to focus on the technical aspects more so than anything relating to quiet character motivation. Such is the case with California director Cary Fukunaga's interpretation of the exceedingly depressing Charlotte Brontë novel, Jane Eyre. It looks amazing. The costumes, sets, makeup and lighting are all superlative, sure to get some form of recognition come awards time. Even the performances from Mia Wasikowska (as the titular, orphaned governess sent to Thornfield Hall) and Michael Fassbender (as her brooding, oft-sanctimonious employer) are sharp and observant, matched by calculation and intellect. But even though Fukunaga exaggerates the ghostly, shadowy aspect of the novel, making this devastating tale somewhat of a gothic mystery, he never understands, or explores, just why in the hell these two people are interested in each other. Rochester (Fassbender) is easier to comprehend, obviously finding appeal in the much younger Eyre and her tendency to challenge his authority with quiet acuity, but it's difficult to discern just what her interest is in him, beyond our obvious association with the source text. Within the film, she seems apathetic towards him, and even men, having been ostracized from her family for being somewhat obstinate. She's surly and self-assured, which never manages to read as romantic. This is why it's odd she'd feel passionate about Rochester when given the opportunity, which could work if it was a financial and pragmatic choice ― her merely being opportunistic ― but this doesn't seem to be the case either. It's actually easier to appreciate her later dalliance with Jamie Bell, who tries to force her into marriage. And while this strange interpretation, and possible miscalculation, hinders the emotional side of Jane Eyre, it still manages to be compelling from beginning to end, focusing intently on the fiery tête-à-têtes and almost otherworldly mystery. The DVD includes an abundance of material on the technical aspects, such as the music and lighting, which drives home the lack of focus on the central passion. (Alliance)