Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jane Eyre: How do you solve a problem like the St. John section?

This 2010 adaptation of the 1847 novel of the same name indoctrinates a new generation of impressionable young and not-so-young girls into believing that bad-tempered alpha males who like to play mind games and are still technically married are soul-mate material. And if they're anything like me, they'll thank Charlotte Bronte for the rest of their messed-up lives.

When filming Charlotte's novel (yep, first name basis), director Cary Fukunaga (making a pretty epic swerve from his 2009 debut, Sin Nombre) is faced with the same problem that has stymied illustrious adapters before him like director Franco Zeffirelli and writer Aldous Huxley. In short, you've got this balls-to-the-wall cross between a Gothic ghost story, a smoldering love affair, and the best episode of Cheaters EVER, and then your heroine ends up with St. John Rivers. For like a year.

Like the 2006 BBC miniseries, Fukunaga goes the route of flashbacks to break up the piety. For the most part it works, though it makes everything until Jane has her portentous run-in with Rochester's stallion (ahem) feel a bit rushed. BOOM: Red room. BOOM: Helen's dead. BOOM: Hey, Dame Judi Dench. But I'm not complaining. Mia Wasikowska is a simmering volcano beneath that bonnet, and as for Rochester? There's a trend developing that overlooks the passages in the novel that insist on the character's ugliness, and instead cast men who are seething cauldrons of smoking hotness.

Exhibit A: Toby "yeah, Dame Maggie Smith's my mom" Stephens


Exhibit B: Michael "Glourious Basterd" Fassbender

I am totally okay with this development.

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