Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jane Eyre Episode 3

Ah, well, better late than never for this review.

We start with Jane at her Aunts house and her trepidation at entering that house is palpable: Jane did not have a happy life there and as the camera whizzes dizzying through the hall and up the stairs, we feel disconcerted and and slightly nauseous, just as Jane must be feeling, she enters and those memories come flooding back, but this Jane is steely and she gathers herself and goes to visit her dying Aunt just as she was bid.

Eliza and Georgiana make an appearance too, seemingly too absorbed in their own lives to notice that their mother is exiting hers upstairs. Eliza's outburst towards Georgiana's laziness, was refreshing and unusual, it's the kind of detail that writers and directors cut out, as it neither advances nor is vital to the plot. I'm in two minds as to whether I liked that scene, in one way I enjoyed it's inclusion, but it seemed superfluous and more like filler. Somewhat ungenerously I felt that Eliza, no doubt due only to her severe hairstyle, looked like a man in a dress. Georgiana, despite her sisters aversion that she was fat, was assuredly not, but a word of advice love, lose the pouffy sleeves: they make you look quite wide and you could get a galia melon up each sleeve.
Meanwhile, back at Thornfield, Rochester amuses himself by blowing smoke at Blanche Ingram, whose shoulders are seemingly smeared with some kind of grease as each subsequent dress she wears, slides lower and lower down her body: cover up dear, you'll catch your death.

I have to say, I like this shot of Toby, the glow from the fire and the smoke makes him look saturnine. (Or perhaps it's more like, "look I can conjure up mini clouds at will!")

Aunt Reed exits perfunctorily from Costume dramacitus, but before that she gives Jane a letter from her Uncle John Eyre, who lives in exotic Madeira, home of wine and cake. What more could a girl want?
Jane returns to Thornfield and finds Rochester waiting for her, with his thighs tightly attired in anticipation. He gets so excited that he flings his telescope down and runs over like a puppy dog. It's quite a touching scene, Jane's delight at being home is evident and so is Rochester's at having Jane close to him again.
Jane's return is timed well, the guests are just leaving, Rochester says a hearty farewell to "the visionary John Eshton", and a cooler one to Lady Ingram and Blanche. It's heartening to see that despite toying with Blanche and leading her on and mocking her, he makes up for it by gifting her his red riding jacket. Well after all, it makes him look like Rupert the Bear.The whole of the proposal scene was skillfully shot, and acted, notably with Ruth giving her snotty best. It was however interesting to note that despite not accepting Rochester's hanky, Jane's snot entirely disappears, just before kissing the man himself.

The giddy pleasure that Jane and Rochester exhibit running through the fields towards Thornfield, is marred only by the frankly fake storm and worst cgi lightening strike in the world. I have to admit that Ruth and Toby both mime running in the rain well.

The following morning, Jane speaks with a disapproving Mrs. Fairfax and spends some time entwined with Rochester on his sofa, he then states he's taking Jane shopping, which causes some consternation, but Jane with her usual stoicism accepts it, but not he gaudy dolllike carriage. The funniest part in the whole episode was Rochester's accompanying smirk to "We're going to Town". And as he stalked out to the carriage, he barks: "You're not coming!" to the occupants of the carriage. At first, you are not sure to which of the two occupants he's talking to, Adele or Pilot! Adele eventually inveigles her way into the shopping expedition and they set off in the black carriage. Rochester pesters Jane and then tells Adele how he will festoon Jane with jewels and present her to the Kings and Queens of Europe. Before the Wedding, one night Jane is disturbed by a nightmare and wakes to find her veil torn to shreds and a mysterious figure holding a candle in her face. The morning of the wedding arrives and Jane looks lovely in her dress, Rochester looks pretty good in his wedding suit too.

As always the wedding is disturbed and the truth of Rochester's past is revealed. I did however always believe that there ought to be two witnesses at a wedding, here there is just the one oldish guy, looking faintly puzzled and the vicar.
This screencap captures Rochester's dejection and anger and sadness all in one. Despite not being able to see three quarters of his face, Toby Stephens manages to imply this inner turmoil with a few subtle facial movements. Toby's acting in this episode has been magnificent, in several scenes, the briefest flickers of emotion flit across his face: you get disgust, anger, regret and sadness in a matter of seconds. The strength of his emotion (when he was talking about the West Indies to Adele and Jane in the garden) made me gasp. I think occasionally his performance has been overlooked and slightly overshadowed by Ruth Wilson's (who is truly fantastic), but in this episode he has surpassed himself and I can't say it enough: he's a great actor.
Jane and indeed the entire wedding delegation is summoned to the hall to meet Rochester's wife. After we ascend the North Tower, the woman we are presented with is pretty and well groomed, not so mad as to not condition and style her hair in the morning, eh?
Rochester tells us how he was tricked into marriage and how he found out only after he was married that Bertha was not the full shilling. My problem with this is that we don't see the full extent of Bertha's madness, due to a scene that I doubt will make it into the teatime repeat on Sunday afternoon, we find out about Bertha's libidinous nature, however, her madness seems to be limited to a few noisy tantrums, so you get the impression that she was just a slightly randy screamy sort of person.

One thing I have missed from this production is Bertha's mad laugh. She's a curiously mute madwoman in the attic.

I like that in the flashbacks Rochester has longer hair. It suits his younger self I think, it does however make him look a little bit like a King Charles Spaniel.

Rochester confesses his whole history to an overwhelmed Jane, again Toby's acting in this scene is superb. His self loathing and self pity is evident. I also thought I saw guilt in there too, guilt at nearly making Jane a false wife, guilt at his treatment of Bertha and guilt at surviving his father and brother to become the heir of Thornfield.
Jane flees to her room and slowly undresses, she puts her sober grey dress back on and tucks away a playful, bridelike tendril of hair that remains. Her numbness is palpable, she's shocked and saddened and all her girlish dreams have been shattered. She ignores Rochester's pleas from the other side of her door and lays down silently on her bed.
And there ends the episode. I want at least two more episodes, how on earth are they going to fit the end of the book into that short hour remaining?


Anonymous said...

Fantastic review Penny, couldnt agree more! Particularly about Toby Stephens acting in this part, which absolutely blew me away. Just with the slightest expression or look in his eyes, he conveyed all the disgust, self-pity, guilt, pain and love that Rochester feels. I loved his humour in this part too.

Best comment of your whole review..."thighs tight in anticipation"!!! LOL!! Great stuff.

C19 Fan

pennyforyourdreams said...

Thanks C19 fan! I managed to write it at last! And both Toby and Ruth have been playing a blinder acting wise, I've been very impressed.