The world has experienced many different adaptations of Charlotte Bronte’s classic gothic romance, Jane Eyre. Audiences find themselves bombarded with Jane Eyre so frequently they tire of the story before they even see it. However, Cary Fukunaga’s film may take the title of the best adaptation to date.
The film begins in the middle of the tale, a bold choice by the director. The viewer is quickly thrust into Jane’s world before they even realize what has happened. The rest of the film continues in flashback fashion, revealing more and more to the audience. Orphaned and treated cruelly as a child, Jane endured much pain as she grew up. Once fully grown, she finds work at Thornfield Hall, where she meets the mysterious Mr. Rochester.
Fukunaga chooses to highlight Jane’s independent thinking and strength throughout the film. Much like the Jane form the novel, Jane does not like anyone else controlling her life. Mia Wasikowska seems as though she was born to play Jane Eyre. Her performance exemplifies the heroism of the character in a fiery yet elegant way. Wasikowska’s center-parted hair and stern face perfectly illustrates Jane’s plainness.
Wasikowska is a perfect contrast to Michael Fassbender’s performance as the cynical yet oddly charming Mr. Rochester. Although readers of the novel may argue he is much too handsome for the role, he shows fantastic charisma and portrays the pain of the character. His acting is best highlighted in the scene when Rochester and Jane first meet. After falling off his horse, Jane offers to help him. He maintains a hard exterior while seeming to crack a few jokes here and there. The audience finds it hard to get a grip on the personality of the character. Is he joking or is he serious? Fassbender’s brilliant performance keeps this question unanswered.
The film has a certain air of mystery around it that has the viewer feeling suspicious and a bit anxious from the beginning. Although there is the romance between Jane and Rochester, much of the film is foreshadowing some kind of creepy mystery about Thornfield.
Fukunaga manipulates light and color to create interesting atmospheres. The tones are constantly shifting from hopeful to harsh. Pale colors and soft lighting create a feeling of sadness, while dark lighting and shades of blue create a feeling of mystery. Lighter colors are used to evoke feelings of romance. Color and light is an extremely effective way in which Fukunaga communicates the story.
Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre is one of the most clear and cleverly done literature to film adaptations to date. Fans of the classic novel as well as new viewers will find themselves connecting to the brilliant characters portrayed by Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. The combination of color, lighting, and great acting are the perfect recipe for a fantastic film. Whether the audience connects to the romance or to Jane’s independent nature, they will find something to love in this film.
Reader, I loved it.