Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jane Error

First, I'm a die hard Jane Eyre fan. I feel the same way about Jane Eyre that hordes of teenagers (and adults) feel about Harry Potter. I own five movie versions of Jane Eyre, and I watch all of them. Often. I read the book every few years and have since I was eleven. It's pretty safe to say this is my favorite fiction book of all time. In my novel, Sleeping With Skeletons, I made my hero an actor just so he could play Edward Rochester and I could throw in the library scene from Jane Eyre -- which is rarely done in movies (to my great disappointment). I have Aidan, from SWS, drive a Veyron because it sounds like Varens -- the little girls name in Jane Eyre. So, basically, I'm a Jane Eyre groupie. If Jane Eyre were a rock group, I'd  stalk them. They'd probably have a restraining order on me.

I first heard there was going to be another Jane Eyre movie about two years ago. The director was Cary Fukunaga. I didn't recognize the name. However, in retrospect, I should have interpreted the first three letters of his last name as a bad omen. Fuk. I've waited for this since I heard that first bit of movie news. It did not play locally, so I had to wait for the DVD. I pre-ordered it, and it arrived today. I was so excited, I immediately brought out the popcorn and Mild Duds (another bad omen), and slipped this baby into the player. I pulled up an overstuffed chair and sat in breathless anticipation.

This retelling of Jane Eyre has dark, moody shots; beautiful cinematography; compelling, immensely-watchable actors, (Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre and Michael Fassbender as Edward Rochester) yet the word that comes to mind when I think of it is... stingy. If you've ever read a Reader's Digest condensed version of a classic, then you'll know what this was like. It's as if the director got to a scene, began it, then stopped in his haste to get to the next one. I envision an old sergeant of mine. "Okay people. Okay. Hurry up. You don't need to eat that. We ain't got all day. You can taste it later. We've got places to go, things to do."

The director repeatedly yanked me out of one scene and then dropped me into the next before finishing the previous one. Just. Splat. This went on from scene to scene. I felt utterly cheated. "Oh, Fuk, what are you doing?" I wanted to yell. (I think I actually did at one point, but I was in such shock, I'm not sure.) Fuk did this through almost the entire movie. Other scenes he just left out entirely. It was so chopped up, so lightning fast -- like a Ginsu Knife commercial -- that I wondered how these two fell in love. I've never wondered that about any previous version of Jane Eyre in my life! But this went so fast it left me wishing there were commercials -- so it would at least feel like the relationship was drawn out.

The scene of their first meeting fell as flat as Rochester's horse. (Especially when compared to the Masterpiece version.) The only thing scorching in the burning bed scene were the sheets. (Especially compared to the versions from A&E and Masterpiece.) Bringing two people so close together it looks like they're going to kiss does not equal heat. There was just one evening party scene with Jane present, and like every other scene up to that point, if fell short. Mason arrived on the first night of the party for crying out loud! I didn't even see a library. There was no real sense of mystery about what was going on in the house. Grace Poole was a non-entity and didn't show up until after the 'wedding'. Rochester's purpose for bringing Blanche Ingram to Thornfield was never developed, nor was Blanche Ingram for that matter. 

The director finally started getting the movie together toward the end. The one scene that captured the essence of Jane Eyre was the scene between Jane and Rochester after the truth came out. I wish that, and the scenes that followed, could have redeemed this movie. Unfortunately, they just didn't quite pull it off. There was too much lacking in the first half of the movie.

How disappointing. I'm going to dust off my Masterpiece, BBC, and A&E copies -- maybe even that mess with William Hurt (which no longer seems like such a mess after watching this) just so I don't feel quite so cheated. I wanted to watch a new Jane Eyre and fall in love with it! This could have been so great. It had wonderful actors. Beautiful scenery. Brilliant camera work. Marvelous costumes. Atmospheric lighting. Intelligent dialog. But the direction and editing were so bad that my mouth has been hanging open for two hours, and I can't get it to shut. How can someone so utterly screw up a masterpiece? Oh, Fuk.

I hope this will be like sushi, and I'll develop a taste for it after I've had it a few times.

26 comments:

MorningAJ said...

Not your favourite, then. ;)

Cynthia said...

Glad I red your review,I'm a Jane Eyre fan too. I'll make sure I miss this one.

RHYTHM AND RHYME said...

Thanks for the warning , I'll give this one a miss also,

Yvonne.

Isis Rushdan said...

LOL!! I okay, like you I was DYING to watch this film and expected great things. So much so that even though I had it on my netflix list I couldn't wait and downloaded it from iTunes while my husband was in Germany last week.

I couldn't even put my disappointment into words, but you did a brilliant job for me. You were right on every point. Even down to when Mason shows up and Rochester says to show him to the library, yet we never do see the library, ha-ha. And Grace Poole materialized out of nowhere. That was the scene when my husband (if he had been watching) would've said, who is she and where did she come from? Even the final scene felt rushed and cut short, argh!

Luanne G. Smith said...

It's funny, I heard the movie was coming out (I'd seen one other version of JE), but still hadn't read the novel. I read it and enjoyed it, but it is a long novel. Don't know how they'd get all that in a film. I'll have to watch the Masterpiece theater version.

Also, I have the same intense devotion to Pride and Prejudice. I read it or watch the A & E version at least once a year. :)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi MorningAJ, it's 12 hours later and I'm still weeping. (but not in a good way - like at the end of Pride and Prejudice.)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Cynthia, always nice to hear from Jane Eyre fans! But maybe you'll like it. Several people at Amazon do.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Yvonne, you might like it... even though I'm reeling from its badness. You know how tastes are.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Isis, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who was disappointed in this film. After I wrote this I wondered if I were unfair. (I hate writing a bad review. Normally if I don't like something, I don't review it. I don't want to discourage someone. But I'd waited two years for this, and it was Jane Eyre!)

And that's exactly how I felt about Poole... who is she and where'd she come from? The whole thing truly was rushed and cut short. Argh is right!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi L.G., the Masterpiece version is brilliant, but there are people who have issues with it because it has so many added scenes that aren't in the book. But it has the atmosphere dead on. This new version is certainly atmospheric, but it doesn't develop the scenes, and that was fru...stra...ting.

And I'm with you on Pride and Prejudice. I also have that in my book because I'm such a huge fan. I'm just a fan of Jane Austin, period. I own three versions of Pride & Prejudice. Two of Persuasion. Two of Sense & Sensibility.)

Golden Eagle said...

I've never read Jane Eyre, or seen any of the movies--I do intend to read the book, though!

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Golden Eagle, It's a great book, but it's not for everyone. Thanks for visiting and the follow!

Unknown said...

I've been wanting to see it but now I won't. I felt the same way you feel about this film towards Pride and Prejudice with Matthew Macfadyn. It felt like I was watching the movie on fast forward.

DEZMOND said...

yep, it was a disappointing film. I thought that it lack some deeper vision and I generally can't stand that Wasikowska woman, but I did like FassMyBenders and Imogen Poots as well :)

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Clarissa, that's how I felt about that version of Pride and Prejudice the first time I saw it. I watched it again thinking perhaps I'd been unfair. But I didn't like it the second time ... or third. But about a year later I caught it on TV about half way through... at the first proposal scene. I was captivated. Since then, I've loved that movie. I'm hoping the same thing will happen with this version of Jane Eyre. I hope you'll watch it. You may feel differently about it than I do.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi DEZMOND, I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt it was disappointing. That's the first time I've seen Wasikowska. I thought she was very good, and I loved Fassbender. My whole issue is with the direction and the editing. Too rushed. Too many chopped up scenes. It had great potential, and didn't realize it. Very disappointing.

M Pax said...

Awww, how disappointing. I love Jane Eyre, too. I snorted water at the first three letters of the director's name.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi M Pax, nice to meet you. Thanks!

msmariah said...

Yeah, I just think they remake this movie too often. It's like they remake this movie every ten years or so.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi MsMariah, it does get made a lot. But I was still looking forward to it. He sure blew it though. So disappointing.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Great line about "the cinematic equivalent of coitus interruptus!" Sorry you were disappointed. Thanks for following me and I look forward to getting to know you! Julie

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Julie, I look forward to getting to know you as well. Thank you for your visit and your kind comments. Doralynn

Brent Wescott said...

I admitted once on my own blog that I've never read Jane Eyre. It was embarrassing. I have taught the book to a high school AP English class, fell asleep during the William Hurt version, and didn't get the joke in Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair (which is awesome and you must read it if you haven't) about the changed ending to the original Jane Eyre. I feel shame about all this, but at least now I don't have to see this new movie version.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Brent, that's so funny. How does someone teach a book they haven't read? I'm really confused about that. I think this post belongs on that confessions website. It would be voted up to the clouds. I'll definitely check out The Eyre Affair. I haven't heard of it. Which is embarrassing. I'm also embarrassed about something else and have a confession. I didn't know that the ending to the original Jane Eyre was changed! I need to go find out how it originally ended! Shocking. Thanks for the wonderful comments. Doralynn

Brent Wescott said...

Give Jasper Fforde a try. He's the one suggesting there was a change. All has to do with his crazy world where characters can come out of their books and into the real world.

I did read the first 150 pages or so. Enough to pretend to my students that I read it all. I feel shame.

Doralynn Kennedy said...

Hi Brent, I checked online for his book. It reminds me a little of Lost in Austen... where the characters come out of their books into the real world with drastic consequences. Now I see what you mean about the change. Scared me a little... thought I'd missed something Bronte. I wrote a few reports in college that I fudged by only partially reading the books.... so sorta the same thing!