I must begin by saying that I absolutely love Jane Eyre. It has been my favorite novel since I was 10 years old and I have read it many times. Jane was my first role model. In a childhood full of isolation and turmoil, I related to her and wanted to become like her–smart–strong-willed–independent–and completely realistic.
The story of Jane’s life is intriguing. It is full of gothic suspense and romance–but not the silly, rainbow and butterfly romance but a soul connection with the greatest anti-hero, Mr. Rochester. (Who I blame for my life-long fascination with anti-hero that then resulted in my finding my own Rochester. <3)
They are two halves of a whole. To quote Rochester, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you (Jane)–especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.”
Lovely. And that is the bond that is missing in the latest Hollywood version. (And I have watched every rendition created!) The chemistry between Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender never quite reaches that level of intimacy. There are parts that are well executed, but most of it feels rushed. I am a huge fan of the BBC version released in 2006, which is 4 hours in length and covers the novel more closely, but I have seen shorten takes–of other favorites–that work wonderfully–the last Pride and Prejudice was nicely done, as well as the brilliant Sense and Sensibility. So, I was open-minded, yet walked out unsatisfied–especially with the ending, which did not represent Jane as she should have been at the end of her journey.
Maybe I would have been more forgiving, if I were not so protective of these characters. Maybe watching this without any earlier acquaintance to them would have allowed me to enjoy it for what it is–a simple retelling of a complicated tale. Maybe, but I can not undo my 30 year love affair with Jane Eyre–for I am afraid I may take to bleeding inwardly.
P.S. Link to Jane Eyre revisited