Opening with a gorgeous shot of moorland, this is another film set in my county of residence, Yorkshire, though mostly filmed in Lancashire and Derbyshire according to the end credits.
It’s a very faithful retelling of the novel, though it starts quite far into the narrative, a device that works quite well as we are plunged into one of the most dramatic scenes of the story and the director can tie the history of Jane into her current situation through a few key flashbacks from her upbringing, a much more economical retelling than trying to blast through her entire childhood and schooling. Despite this, the film had quite a stolid, old-fashioned feel to it – not necessarily a bad thing. If you haven’t read Charlotte Bronte’s novel – and you really should have – it’s an intense and romantic love story of a poor but strong-willed young woman acting as a governess for the illegitimate daughter of a sullen and brooding wealthy man with a shameful secret, shocking for it’s time though much more restrained and realistic than sister Emily’s Wuthering Heights, also soon to be released in a new film version.
Fassbender makes a compelling Rochester, if a trifle young for how I imagined him, and Wasikowska is good value as Jane. For most of the film, I was fully immersed in the world, though the screen looked a bit gloomy, even during what were evidently meant to be bright, sunny scenes. I’m inclined to think this a fault of the projectionist rather than the cinematographer.
It did lose a bit of dramatic power just as it should have been most intense. At two hours long it shouldn’t need an interval but I wonder whether this was simply a bit of fatigue and that it would be better viewed in two halves, like a tv mini-series.
A slight aside – I was amused to see from the credits that the horses and carriages were provided by “The devil’s horsemen”.