Monday, May 16, 2011

Jane Eyre (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

Jane Eyre

     Cary Fukunaga's version of "Jane Eyre" is a metamorphosis. Instead of a conservative classical rendering, the 2011, Eyre is a being self-possessed, witchy and besieged by the supernatural. She is individualistic and dare I say, Objectivist.  The film presents a bestial Bronte world as if on steroids, more real than real. And the audience is now all the better for it. The film has both the daring and the good sense to maintain the classic elements while adding a surreal existential impact.
     As the camera falls on Jane Eyre, she is convulsed in fear and guilt regarding Rochester's moral bankruptcy. We do not know if she is fleeing from a demon of mind or body and her terror and pain is  atmospherically tangible. It is in the very air she breathes. Eyre  is an outsider, an ill weed, cast aside for possessing a thick skin, a clinical intellect and for being labelled a witch. 
     The grey-green terra cotta Earth seems to squelch Eyre under its impartial weight. Still she carries on. Eyre stares spacey and aghast as if she is not from  Gateshead, but a small planet floating in forlorn space. We wonder how much her spare yet seal-like body can take. But this is not a depressing adaptation. The tight pacing along with the hypnotic tensions of the characters will bind your eyes together as if under the spell of two raven-haired succubi.
     Mia Wasikowska,  who portrayed a perfect Alice in Tim Burton's "Wonderland" plays the beset heroine as a fierce empirical rose with bent thorns who blushes hot and cold. Wasikowska retains the same alert passivity that she used so well in "Alice" and it may well be her trademark. Her Eyre is an existential Ophelia as she witnesses the stern  abuse heaped upon her seemingly without reason.  Eyre's  torture in mind and body is embedded in the earth under her grey feet. Her cold yet oddly melting charisma would make any Pre-Raphelite painting leap from the frame and want to become flesh.
     Again and again, Eyre is mentally and physically confined in abuse by moral happenstance, or twined in dilemmas of the heart. Never have humans seemed so ghoulish. This adaptation rivals any bestiary imagined by Guillermo del Toro without the hyperactivity of CGI.
Is Rochester (Michael Fassbinder) a vampire, a fallen angel, or a boorish Byronic facade? Is Eyre beset by spirits?  The genuine psychological pathos never lags behind its gothic trappings. The body of this film thankfully matches its spirit, possessed with plenty of sensual heat as well as haunt. Better still, Jane Eyre emerges as a genuine person, leaping in joy as well as smoldering and enfolding her spurned body upon herself--- a crushed flower.
     For me, "Jane Eyre" the film, is primarily a visual experience and on that level it is a delight from start to finish. 

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