And by “beauty” I don’t just mean Mr. Rochester, although we can all admit that Cary Fukunaga‘s 2011 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel puts the leading man in a rather handsome light.
In the novel, he’s of course no more handsome than plain Jane is beautiful. But then you put Michael Fassbender in the role, and we’re all willing to have a suspension of disbelief.
And of course there are issues with this version. I mean, Jane’s school friend Helen herself does not get enough screen time. And all of the awfulness that surrounds the Ingrams’ visit to Thornfield Hall is limited to a couple of scenes. But really Brontë’s novel is jam-packed with characterization and action and carefully constructed scenes which just cannot fit into a feature film length. And as fun as mini-series are to watch (I’m looking at you, North and South), they are tedious.
Because you can’t just pop in the DVD and spend some time with Jane and Rochester. You have to commit a hefty portion of your life to spend time with those characters.
Also, if I want to spend that much time with them, I’d much rather read the book again. Because it’s one of those novels where each time you read it, you see more.
Anyways, I thought that as lacking as this version was in some aspects, it was a rather genius way to treat Jane’s life as a series of flashbacks. There’s no way Fukunaga could have fit everything into two hours, but we get enough to appreciate her hardship, her strength and her unwavering character.
Plus we get to see Fassbender as Rochester, which is just wonderful.
And Judi Dench as the slightly frazzled Mrs. Fairfax.
So if you’d like to read two hours worth of two girls swooning and crying and amusing themselves about things that are at the same time funny and tragic, you can read the commentary here.