Friday, March 4, 2011
Well it wasn't like we needed a new version of the Charlotte Bronte classic "Jane Eyre", but version #22 was a solid entry. Will this one hold up or will version #23 be necessary as well. I had to consult with my sister on this one because even though I have an English degree (minor) I avoided that genre and stuck with more manly subjects like Shakespeare...
There isn't really a need to recap the story, so I will focus more on the players involved. In this version we have the rising star Mia Wasikowska as the poor, obscure, plain and little Jane Eyre that we know and love. At the young age of 20 during filming, Mia is able to show her independence and feminist strength in a way that other young women of her age disregard while filming popcorn teen flicks. Mia has built a strong resume already with films like "Defiance", "Kids Are All Right", "Alice and Wonderland" to name just a few; and this will only further her career.
We have excellent complimentary players with Jamie Bell (St John Rivers), Sally Hawkins (Mrs. Reed), Dame Judi Dench (Mrs. Fairfax), Michael Fassbender (Rochester) and Amelia Clarkson (young Jane Eyre). The acting was top notch, but the choices for some of the rolls could be a bit off for fans that would prefer to be true to the vision of Ms Bronte. Jamie Bell is a great young actor, but he really seemed too young for this role. They tried to put facial hair on him, but he just looks too young right now for a role as a clergyman. Another important character that is not heavily inserted into this movie is from Sally Hawkins who was strong early in the film, but in the end was not at her best (go see her in "Happy-Go-Lucky" instead). The acting picks up for obvious reasons once Dame Judi Dench emerges. You almost feel sorry for Mia Wasikowska, because you know she cannot measure up and in a way that works because it makes Jane Eyre seem even more plain and simple. Then there is Michael Fassbender who will obviously be compared to Orson Welles (1943), Timothy Dalton (1983) and William Hurt (1996). He does a quality job, but isn't really memorable to me.
I am going to reach a bit here on categories I usually don't know very much about and say that this will be nominated for Costume Design and Art Direction. It could be too early to nominate any of the actors, but Mia Wasikowska, Dame Judi Dench and Michael Fassbender all performed superbly and that is why I am going to bump this all the way to 5 Quacks. I could see Dame Judi Dench nominated for a supporting role and Mia Wasikowska getting some attention for the lead. With that, it could be a long while before version #23 is necessary. However, it won't stop Hollywood from making version #15 of Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" that is scheduled for a Fall 2011 release.
(screening date 3/3/11, release date 3/11/11, location AMC Mazza Gallerie)