I've just returned from watching the newest version of of Jane Eyre at the cinema - the first showing on the first day of its release, God I'm keen. I utterly adore the book by Charlotte Bronte, I really like both Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender and I thought the trailer looked stunning. All in all I went into the cinema with high expectations, fully hoping to like it, but also very wary.
Now, the story of Jane Eyre is surely familiar to all, but for those who have been living beneath an unliterary rock for the past century or so, Jane Eyre is the story of a young downtrodden woman who takes a post as governess at the foreboding Thornfield Hall. There she meets her master Mr Rochester and falls in love, little knowing he is hiding a terrible secret...a marvel when it was first released, Jane Eyre is still to this day remarkable for its strong themes of feminine independence, passionate love and scandal. It is however an intensely complex novel to pack into one film, and I think it is the way this adaptation deals with that that I found the most interesting (and ironically what my mother, who came with me and is if anything an even greater fan than me, disapproved of the most). Knowing that every plot point could not possibly be fitted into the film, the director (Cary Fukunaga) seems to have instead chosen to concentrate on certain details and aspects of the story, in particular Jane's character and the choices and obstacles she is faced with throughout her life. This can be frustrating sometimes, as certain beloved scenes are missed out which otherwise contribute to the story of Mr Rochester or the romance between them, and indeed the film does have a certain rushed shortened quality to it which is a shame, however overall it manages to strike a deep chord and fully explore the character of Jane Eyre. Wasikowska plays a strong, grave, independent Jane, who although lacking in slight playfulness, is deeply passionate and a sympathetic character. Mr Rochester as portrayed by Michael Fassbender is a Byronic, tortured and passionate soul, and although again the sarcastic witty side to Mr Rochester is lacking, Fassbender plays him with such depth and character that it's impossible not to fall in love. And indeed this is the crux of the matter - this adaptation is very different to previous ones because it does not try to stick too closely to the book, rather it is far darker, Gothic, brooding and romantic. Although very well written, it is the silences and the visual side of the performances and cinematography that matter just as much. Perhaps unusual in a period drama, which usually features a lot of talking, but this raw, physical adaptation is perfect in its own way. Beautifully made and arresting to watch - with a gorgeous score by Dario Marianelli who just keeps winning my undying love - this may not be the most loyal adaptation and may not even be my favourite (I do have great love for the BBC version) but it is certainly wonderful in its own right.