Saturday, May 12, 2012

Film Club Reviews #15

I've been trying to pinpoint where Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Jane Eyre goes wrong. It's handsomely made with fine location work and composition of shots, the performances are all strong and it's properly cinematic. Upon reflection I think the screenplay is the problem. There's too much to get in. Screenwriter Moira Buffini's decision to start at a moment of dramatic crisis late in the book and flashback to Jane's childhood is a good one but by the end too many plot developments are left to get through in too short a time. It feels rushed, a cascade of improbable incident. Which is a pity because there's much to admire here. Mia Wasikowska is compelling as Jane, a study of inner strength, restraint and vulnerability, one of those performances that are all presence, the camera in thrall to her face. Michael Fassbender has presence to burn in any role but give him Victorian sideburns, riding breeches and a scowl and you're guarenteed the business. His Rochester is less gothically mysterious than the book, more distracted, burdened, a man made remote by the secrets he has to keep. Judi Dench is reliably kindly and humourous as Mrs. Fairfax and there's fine support too from Sally Hawkins as nasty Mrs. Reed and Amelia Clarkson as the young Jane. Add a great feel for landscape and you have a film well worth seeing despite the rushed later stages. I should add I was the only one who seemed to have a problem with it. Everyone else loved it.

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