Saturday, August 20, 2011

JANE EYRE (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2011)

For some reason it's never been more acceptable to poke fun at the very Hollywoodised and rather fabulous 1944 Fontaine-Welles version and its arch theatrics. But Brontë's gothic romance needs theatrics - it needs to be moody, tempestuous, pompous, passionate to an excess. Because when you tackle a plot this foggy with dialogue this mannered, you need to accept that you are dealing in fantasy.

In theory this 'gen-Y' update's handheld camerawork and murky, strictly motivated lighting are irreproachable. In theory so is the attempt at age-appropriate casting and semi-naturalistic acting. But for all their repressed hysterics and clipped line readings, Wasikowska and Fassbender don't muster up a trace of chemistry or any coherent emotional throughline.

The 1944 version was shrill and faintly tacky, but it had force, it had conviction, it was transporting. This 2011 edition is by comparison wan, unconvincing. Bloodless.

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