Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011 9:08 am by M. in ,    No comments
Associated Press gives the film 3 out of 4 stars:
Visually and tonally, his "Jane Eyre" is muted, stripped-down; it's gooey and marshy, vast and grassy, anything but lush — and that's what makes it beautiful. The pacing might even be a bit too low-key, but because it is, and because the attraction between Jane and Rochester simmers for so long, it makes the passionate bursts stand out even more. This version also emphasizes the tale's darker Gothic elements, adding a sense of horror that's both disturbing and welcome.
Regardless of esthetics, the relationship between Jane and Rochester is at the heart of the story — it's the source of emotion — and Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender challenge and beguile each other beautifully. Wasikowska, who co-starred last year in Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" and in the Academy Award best-picture nominee "The Kids Are All Right," continues to show her versatility here. She's all intelligence and determination, and very much Fassbender's equal in terms of presence. Fassbender, who was devastating as Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands in "Hunger," plays the iconically tragic character of Rochester with all the necessary wit, ferocity and torment.  (...)
Jamie Bell co-stars as the other potential suitor in Jane's life, St. John Rivers, the young man of God who views her as an ideal missionary's wife; the fact that they don't love each other yet is irrelevant to him. Still, it's Jane's idealism — despite the difficult and lonely life she'd led — that keeps her striving for something better, more fulfilling.
Society would seem to dictate that Jane and Rochester can't be together. But it's their pasts that are really keeping them apart — their secrets, and the walls they've built up for themselves. So when they finally admit their feelings, their words come out in an emotional torrent.
Bring tissues. You've been warned. (Christy Lemire)
3 stars too by Us Magazine:
Wasikowska shines as the restrained, soulful heroine and shares compelling chemistry with her mysterious soulmate. This is a romantic, thrilling and often scary adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë classic. (Cinya Burton)
4 out of 5 by Time Out New York:
Fukunaga, who made a promising debut with 2009’s Sin Nombre, orchestrates some alternately disturbing and dreamy encounters (the famous bed-on-fire sequence sizzles even after Jane has doused the flames). And Wasikowska and Fassbender are perfectly paired, though the streamlining of the story occasionally gives the proceedings a CliffsNotes-illustrated feel (the revelation of Rochester’s past doesn’t pack quite the punch it should). Still, the film builds to a shattering climax that works precisely because all involved fully embrace the melodrama. Be sure to bring Kleenex. (Read more) (Keith Uhlich)
3 out of 4 by Slant Magazine:
If this Jane Eyre, in the wake of at least 20 earlier movie versions, doesn't fully sustain this spirit of reinventing the Brontë story (it can't match the boldness with which Jane Campion recalibrated The Portrait of a Lady for the 1990s), there are sufficient rewards to engage a viewer who hasn't encountered this quintessential Victorian, death-steeped romance since sophomore English, principally the two leads and their duet of Byronic morbidity and virginal fluster. Wasikowska, mildly frowning and moving with unflappable, porcelain delicacy through her early scenes of educating Rochester's French ward, physicalizes the trauma and repression absorbed by Jane in her hard-knock youth (melodramatically pocked with beatings and her embrace of a dying innocent in her boarding-school bed); when the master of the house finally melts her reserve, she giggles as if for the first time. Fassbender proves himself up to imbuing his Rochester with enough pathos and needful passion to carry his plausibility past the difficult revelation of the noisy phantom in Thornfield's attic (Orson Welles, in his 1943 Hollywood performance of the role, seemed more like Hamlet-turned-gothic madman).   (Read more) (Bill Weber)
IndieWire's James on Screens shares its views:
Mia Wasikowska may be the most self-possessed Jane ever, and Michael Fassbender the most romantic Rochester, yet together they seem miraculously true in this dazzling new version, which hands us the essence of Charlotte Brontë’s fanatically-adored novel.
Brontë has given readers many different reasons for responding to her story of the unloved orphan turned governess, who falls for her gruff employer, only to find on their wedding day that he has a mad wife stashed in a hidden room. The wonder of Fukunaga’s film - faithful overall, inventive when it needs to be - is that it weaves all those elements together, capturing the novel’s over-the-top romanticism, its exquisite sense of tortured emotions, its fairy-tale and Gothic plot twists, its moralistic sense that happiness comes at a cost.
Wasikowska is an ideal, complex Jane, maybe the best. As governess to Rochester’s ward at Thornfield Hall, she is reticent and subdued, outspoken when pressed – she looks everyone in the eye—sure of her own worth even when the world undervalues her. It is a flawless, graceful, natural performance.
At first Fassbender hardly seems like a romantic hero; muttonchops never make a man look as attractive as he might. But as he becomes passionate about Jane, a lock of his hair seems always to be falling over his forehead. (See some earlier, too-dreamy Rochesters here.) He may be romanticized - Jane herself often sees him that way - yet Fassbender lets us glimpse the conflict under the surface.
There are rare moments when Jane’s lines sound jarringly contemporary. “I wish a woman could have action in her life like a man,” she tells Mrs. Fairfax as they stare out a window at the wide world. But whatever flaws the film has are minor. Embracing Brontë’s wildest emotions, this glorious Jane Eyre proves that sometimes a movie can make you love the novel more. (Caryn James)
DVD File joins their ranks:
With the film adaptation of Jane Eyre, director Cary Joji Fukanaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini have succeeded where many others have failed. While it is fairly easy to rest on the ample laurels of Victorian tales of romance from Jane Austen and the like Fukanaga takes a nuanced and risky approach, reinventing the tale of Jane Eyre in her own vision while at the same time maintaining the period charm and grace that give these stories such life. In the same way that Peter Jackson took liberal risks with editing Tolkien’s timeline when filming his Lord of the Rings trilogy in order to heighten tension, Buffini does much the same thing with the source material from Charlotte Brontë.  Instead of telling a typically linear story, Buffini chose to chop up the flow of the film leading to the bulk of the story being viewed through an extended flashback sequence. (Read more) (Finnian Durkan)
Chicago Tribune gives 3 out of 5 stars:
A perfectly competent rendering of an established classic that pushes the right buttons with style and prestige—but also a film that seems blissfully aware of its own superfluous status. It’s only been five years since the BBC’s last well received “Eyre” miniseries, starring Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. If filmmakers insist on revisiting Brontë, the long form format seems better suited to her sprawling narrative. Features are forced to condense the story to its basic elements—romance, mystery, tragedy. (...)
But will we remember this “Jane Eyre” any more fondly than the last feature (in 1996, with Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt) or the inevitable next miniseries? Does it even matter? Brontë’s novel will surely outlast them all. (Geoff Berkshire)
Marie at the movies gives the movie an A-, No Small Dreams recommends it. Other positive reviews can be read on Spirituality and Practice, Cole Smithey, Emanuel Levy, MSN Movies, New York Magazine,

Entertainment Weekly is far less enthusiastic: a B- :
As Jane, the willful orphan who becomes a docile governess, Wasikowska has pale skin, a lovely collarbone, and a rock-steady gaze, with serious eyes that seem to look right into the soul of whomever she's talking to. This actress doesn't just send out vibes of awareness — she's gorgeously grave. She makes Jane's passive, shrinking-violet moments percolate with hidden life. (...)
As Rochester, Michael Fassbender, the forceful Irish actor from Inglourious Basterds and Hunger, looks startlingly like Daniel Day-Lewis, but from the moment he shows up in wispy muttonchop sideburns, a Byronic hero in secret agony over...we're not quite sure what, Fassbender lacks the special smolder that Day-Lewis might have brought to the role. He's a less primal, more gentlemanly Rochester than Brontë created. And that works, up to a point. Fassbender makes Rochester very sympathetic, and when he reaches out to Jane, his amorous overtures are touching. Yet I never felt her swoon in return. Their communion is sweet but rather bloodless. Maybe that's because Jane Eyre, as directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre), has a few token thunderstorm-on-the-moors scenes but lacks a grand, mythological design. The movie is choppy and prosaic.
The script, by Moira Buffini, whittles down the novel, preserving the key incidents — a raging midnight fire, an unwelcome proposal from Jane's second, pious benefactor (Jamie Bell) — that shape our heroine. Yet the more the events pile up, the more we feel that we're watching the story of two lost souls whose love is stymied by pesky Victorian rules. The film never conveys that something larger is at work — like, say, the hand of fate. And without that, there's more busyness than beauty to Brontë. (Owen Gleiberman)
The situation gets summarised on Rotten Tomatoes like this:

Los Angeles Times interviews Mia Wasikowska:
Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the past incarnations, Wasikowska didn't watch any of them. But she still felt a pull to the character that she wasn't able to fully articulate.
"Often, if I read a story and I'm moved, I have an understanding for a character and I don't really know why," she said. She's been in relationships before, but none as intense as the one between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, played in the new film by German-born actor Michael Fassbender.
"Nothing on that level, with a wife in the attic," she laughed. "But I think every girl has her relationship that's the really dramatic one. And we really wanted there to be a sense of that all going on inside her head. Like anyone who experiences bottling something up, when you get the chance to let that out, that's terrifying and sad and everything."
She paused to pull out her iPhone, showing off a photograph she took on the set in Derbyshire, England. During the last year, she's begun toting a camera around on her travels, taking pictures of her hotel rooms and costars. (Both of her parents are also photographers.) (Amy Kaufman)
MovieLine has another and quite more interesting interview with the actress:
Jane Eyre continues the streak; it’s an incredibly beautiful film. What piqued your interest about playing this literary heroine?
I think that the story is so modern, in a way, in the sense that if you took away the costumes and the setting, at the core of it is a story that is very much a modern story. And it’s testament to the book — the book’s popularity has never wavered, it’s never died down. If anything it’s gotten stronger and continued and it keeps connecting with people. And that’s because at the core of it you have a young woman who’s trying to find a family and love and a connection, in a very dislocated world. I was completely struck by her character when I read the book. (...)
Having known and loved the character, what was your reaction to how Moira Buffini adapted the story?
The book is from start to finish 500+ pages of Jane’s inner monologue. Everything we know is because of what she’s told us directly. So the challenge of adapting it to screen is that you have such a limited opportunity to show actual dialogue, but then you want to get a sense of her intense thought and her observations and everything that’s going on in her mind. I thought the script really captured that. And I loved how it begun instantly, with her running away — for people who don’t know the story, you’re instantly with her, running away. It’s a mystery; you want to know who she is, what she’s doing, and why she’s there, and how she got to be there. And that I really love. (Read more) (Jen Yamato)
Moviefone also interviews her... but the interview goes a different road:
Moviefone: The one thing that surprised me about 'Jane Eyre' was how dark and violent it was. I would assume that was intentional from the get-go.
Mia Wasikowska: Yeah, I think so. I think originally that was sort of what Cary [Fukunaga]'s idea for the film was. I hope that it achieved that. I think it did.
Moviefone: You did a lot of kissing scenes with Michael Fassbender, who is 12 years your senior. That first take must have been awkward.
[Laughs] You know what? Yeah. You just kind of get over it, and you go with it. But Michael's the best. He's just the coolest guy, and so it was fun.
Moviefone: He's pretty easy on the eyes, so I imagine it wasn't that bad.
[Laughs] Yeah. I pretend to complain. (Read more) (Andrew Scott)
IFC has a video interview with both Mia and Michael Fassbender.

ComingSoon has a video interview with Cary Fukunaga:
In the following exclusive video interview with Fukunaga, we discuss:
* How he went from Sin Nombre to this project
* What he wanted to do different with his version on the story
* How they came up with the non-linear way of telling the story
* Casting Mia Wasikowska as Jane
* Whether he had to face conflicts being an American filmmaker telling the story
* How he was able to immerse himself into the time period for accuracy
* Going for a far more muted color scheme
And more! (Edward Douglas)
iVillage gives some lessons that can be extracted from Jane Eyre:
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s deliciously dark and stormy big-screen adaptation of Jane Eyre (in select theaters on March 11) serves up all the delights of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel: deep melodrama, broken hearts and a teen-age heroine (Mia Wasikowska, pictured) who never accepts the misfortunes served her way. But in addition to the restrained tears, tight bodices and handsome lords, there are a few lessons in Jane’s story that any modern woman can benefit from: (Read more) (Angela Matusik)
And also ...olology, The Aquarian, Reelz Channel, iVillage, Belfast Telegraph, PopEater, Washington Square News...

Appartment Therapy posts several nice pictures of the interiors from the set of the film (in Haddon Hall).

And finally, the article of the week is this very personal (and fascinating) story of love and hate that Edward Champion (on Reluctant Habits) maintains with the novel and its subsequent adaptations. A long but worthy article. His views on Jane Eyre 2011 are, nevertheless, devastating:
I know within a minute of first seeing Michael Fassbender in this movie that he doesn’t have what it takes to be Rochester. And it gets worse as the film goes on. He isn’t fierce enough. He doesn’t have the eyes that men like Orson Welles or Oliver Reed had; the eyes that somehow convince you to jump into an abyss before you know you’re falling. When Rochester sits in a chair, the chair has more screen presence. Poor Fassbender looks as if he’s been asked to do nothing but stare intensely at the camera. His arms and legs have pinioned by bad direction.
It doesn’t help that screenwriter Moira Buffini (responsible for Tamara Drewe) has restructured Jane Eyre so that a good portion of the St. John episode comes first (i.e., the movie begins with Jane’s escape from Thornfield, which in itself is a ballsy and interesting choice), followed by a surprising extension of the early business with the Reeds, with the Lowood stuff getting cheapened into what appears to be digital cardboard decor, which results in Rochester’s first appearance getting postponed and the narrative structure collapsing in on itself.
The “pedestal of infamy” mentioned in the book, which is a metaphor, is mentioned directly by an evil teacher in the movie. That’s how literal-minded the script is. The script also includes numerous moments where characters tell each other what they’re feeling, as if Buffini doesn’t understand that this is a visual medium. (Read more)
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