Thursday, August 11, 2011

MIFFdrawal session 3: Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte's GothRom revisits the big screen again in subtle but hearty form. Mia Wasikovska (our own) plays a Jane plain but with a wandering eye and a frustration at the horizon seen from the window doing the same to her as her life: nix adventure. Jane is a furnace beneath her composure and Wasikovska portrays this through her coal black eyes that smoulder from her poise and cleanliness. Then, as this setup demands (of Bronte and any adaptation) all this control must be exposed to disassembling chaos.

Enter Mr Rochester, master of the castle, lands, goods, chattels and anything else in his ancestors' domesday book entry. Dark and sexy as a blue pointer shark he appears in a crash of violent movement as Jane unwittingly spooks his horse while walking through a fog in a forest (blame Charlotte Bronte!) From that point on it's Jane vs Rochester and the tall dark and sexy Michael Fassbender fills a role most memorably substantiated by Orson the Great many decades ago. He doesn't do Orson. He is far closer to the Rochester of Bronte: aristocratic ad hedonistic when not lightlessly gloomy.

He's a good Roch, she's a good Jane. Is it a good Jane Eyre? Yes, because it lets its strengths (undercurrent, unspoken dialogue, robust control over light and landscape to play the atmosphere like a pipe organ) work under their own momentum and forbids the suddenness of melodrama (Bronte's book is fraught but not bodice-ripping). No, it's not a good Jane because the element that might save it from being too plain , the novel's wafting but everpresent creepiness, is turned down so low that it never quite takes to the air. Without the spookiness Jane Eyre can only be a serious study in restrained power. Is it a middling Jane Eyre? No, because the central performances are so exact and never mannered. Maybe middling because the score is a by the numbers string section wash that while not fulsomely everpresent is always unwelcome to my ears and makes a potentially extraordinary film veer toward becoming a resolutely ordinary one.

So, contradictions. I won't rush to watch this again but I'm glad I took the effort.

Little else to say but this from my particular screening. There was an audio anomaly in the first reel or so (assuming reels were in use) which had the pitch wavering down a noticeable microtone every few minutes. This was only noticeable in the music score with its languid strings but it had the curious effect of sounding like 20th century modernism as though the composer, ashamed of his work's conventionality, was twiddling a pitch control in a last ditch effort to gain some edge. It was corrected about twenty minutes in and the problem didn't return. Made me wonder how it happened, though. That pitch waver takes a lot of work in the digital realm but might only be a dirty pinch roller on an analogue machine. That's why called the duration a reel above, by the way.

Now off to find something for tomorrow.....

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