In all fairness to the many fine (and not-so-fine) film-makers who have attempted to do a film adaptation of Jane Eyre, Bronte did not make their task easy. With the backdrop of a dark, gloomy, gothic setting, the responsible adaptation must also create a warm and blazing passion between two characters. Each element--setting, Jane, Rochester--must be finely tuned to the other two. In addition, the leads may not be all that spectacular to look at. Jane should be plain. Rochester, almost ugly. We must also add that Jane is cautious and her paramour grouchy beyond belief. But only toward her, of course, the woman who best understands him. To all other, lovelier women, he must appear as the very soul of charm. To this tricky mix we must add a crazy woman in the attic, a plot that spans twenty-five years and TWENTY YEARS DIFFERENCE in ages.
With all this potential for getting it wrong, it is so refreshing when somebody gets it right. The new Jane Eyre is haunting and dark with moments that feel like they verge on a horror movie. The leads look and act just right. Jane is plain without her make up and her conservative hair, but she has the most luscious lips I've ever seen. Mr. Rochester can hardly keep his eyes off of them from the beginning of their acquaintance. There are moments that absolutely sizzle in this version, once again proving that NOT kissing is sometimes much more sensual than actually kissing.
Remember the above scene from Pride and Prejudice? NOT kissing combined with Darcy Effect is pretty much smoking hot.
Doesn't he look properly tortured?
The above picture is another not-kissing scene. Enough drama to give Shakespeare a run for his money.
Oh, it isn't perfect. I could have used about 20 more minutes. There should have been more with the crazy wife--like the ripping of the veil, which is a really chilling scene. Most of the cuts from the original story are well-considered, but I didn't think that poor Bertha and Grace Poole got enough mileage. This script also implies other things--that the little girl is Rochester's, for example. I would have liked to see more of Jane's refusal of Rochester scripted from the book, as the screenwriter did in other spots. I think they missed the central (and most religious!) aspects here. Also, when she returns to Rochester he has a horrible shaggy beard that she kisses. It is like watching her lick a bird's nest. Not great.
All in all, I was deeply satisfied. Clearly, so were Jane and Rochester:
My next review: WICKED. Showtime tonight at 7:30!