How plain Jane lives through her Hurt


FILMING books is an act not just of adaptation, but of translation. There are meaningful plays on words that cannot be replicated with sound and pictures, and vice versa. Franco Zeffirelli, who has created a fine Romeo and Juliet and a very decent Hamlet, now piles on to the English- heritage-movie heap a version of Jane Eyre (PG; screenplay by Hugh Whitemore) which will split Bronte lovers nicely into two camps: the moaners and the pleasantly surprised.

Schlock rears its head immediately, with young Jane (a gorgeously defiant Anna Paquin) locked in the Red Room. No psychological subtleties: the camera swoops and tilts zanily around the gory furnishings. One-nil to the moaners; but it's still all to play for. Fiona Shaw as Mrs Reed is a predictably hammy pudding of actorly pauses and odd voice-pitching, but to our relief Jane is soon whisked off to Lowood school. The grim penury of the establishment, and Jane's friendship with the consumptive Helen, are blissfully free of Hollywood sentimentality.

Suddenly, in an elegant graveyard segue, Anna Paquin becomes Charlotte Gainsbourg. The tradition of casting French actresses as English literary heroines is a short and ignominious one - who can remember Juliette Binoche in Wuthering Heights without smirking? - but this is inspired. Moving mostly from the neck up like a nervous duckling, Gainsbourg exploits well her fascinatingly jolie laide features. When Jane believes that Rochester loves Blanche Ingram (travestied as a blonde bimbo by the pointless Elle Macpherson), Bronte's text is intelligently telescoped. We simply get one shot of Gainsbourg looking into a mirror, declaring with melancholy triumph: "You're a fool."

Gainsbourg's superb Jane is matched by her Rochester. William Hurt, so good at fey self- adoration, has of late acquired a craggy depth to his features, and an interesting lower-jaw mobility. Unlike Orson Welles's Rochester, who was too twinkly too soon, Hurt is authentically threatening and violent, and his transition to helpless adoration is perfectly paced. Jane draws his portrait in the garden: upon seeing it, he scowls. "You have me utterly," he complains with venom, and screws the paper up. The line, as delivered, is also a lament for his lost independence, and a gruff celebration of his love.

Jane Eyre, however, is far from perfect. After the mad-wife revelation, Jane's interlude at Moor House is passed over rapidly. Because the seductive alternative of religious life is lost, Jane's return to Rochester seems more easily inevitable. Grace Poole initially appears as a George Romero zombie; Rochester no longer loses a hand in the fire (too disgusting). The book's most famous line - "Reader, I married him" - needs changing, but Gainsbourg's voiceover gives: "And so I married him," which is two words too long. ("And so" replaces Jane's breezy surprise with incongruous argument.) But Jane Eyre's greatest minor triumph is Joan Plowright's detailed, heartwarmingly comic performance as Mrs Fairfax.

The film is strewn with subtle but telling filmic tics: twice Jane is bathed in a cold, astringent light flooding through windows, dissolving her icy self-reliance in a paradoxically warming effect; many times, the camera swoops up to buildings and lurks outside their facades momentarily, as if they too are characters to be denuded of secrets. Finally, the opening and closing tableaux are made to fade out of, and back into, corresponding monochrome etchings. This reflex of book reverence confirms that, despite a joyous clarity, Jane Eyre doesn't quite have the courage to be its own work of art.

Harold Ramis's Multiplicity (12) is a comedy about a man, Doug (Michael Keaton), who is so rushed off his feet between job and family that he accepts the offer of a kindly scientist to clone him. Before long there are four Michael Keatons sharing the screen in naff special-effects montages. Doug Two is a workaholic, beer-drinking slob; Three is a camp, caring new-man type; Four is a retard.

If you thought this was going to be a clever, philosophical comedy, like Ramis's earlier Groundhog Day, forget it. Multiplicity starts off very funny, but gets bogged down in weird sexist fantasies. If simpering were an Olympic sport, then Andie MacDowell (Doug's wife, Laura) would be the new Carl Lewis. Still, it's worrying when the film takes such humourless glee in forcing her to have sex with all three clones, one after the other. Then Laura leaves Doug, and he woos her back by redecorating the homestead. She loves the gleaming new kitchen, gliding around with a creamy grin and ejaculating: "This is perfect!" There you are: all women want is a shag and a nice kitchen. It would have been a teeny bit interesting if Doug had had to kill his oth- er selves to get rid of them; instead, they move to Miami and open a pizza restaurant. Rubbish.

Walter Hill's velvety, violent Last Man Standing (18) has a knotty lineage. It is avowedly based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, a film about a 19th-century samurai who arrives in a strange town ruled by two rival gangs, and decides to kill them all. That is also where the plot for A Fistful of Dollars came from. But Yojimbo itself was based on Dashiel Hammett's 1929 hard- boiled classic The Red Harvest, so it makes sense that Hill has reset the action in Prohibition-era America, where the gunmen use automatics rather than revolvers, cars rather than horses.

The man with no name is Bruce Willis, who for the last decade and a half has been the only non-pensionable action-hero with an ounce of humanity. Brucie here is free from all trademark moues and smirks, and he exudes an eminently watchable, pent-up physicality. The only hangover from his Die Hard days is the irresistible Vest Shot. Arriving in the mythical border town of Jericho, Bruce finds that an Italian gang of bootleggers is at war with an Irish gang, and plays them off against each other for hard cash, before awakening to a moral certitude that the hoods would all be better off dead.

The Irish gang have a psycho working for them named Hickey (Christopher Walken, natty in a bow-tie and long facial scar). Walken radiates a dumb, doleful hatred, and his voice is the rattling of ancient, sepulchral phlegm, but he is also entertainingly sprightly: "I don't wanna die in Texas," he chuckles. "Chicago, maybe." Last Man Standing fairly drips with style, from bleached, grainy daylight to faces photographed gloomily through grime-streaked windows, and a thumpingly sexy slide-guitar-and-sax score from Ry Cooder - it's that rare thing, a non-smoking noir. At bottom, just boys with guns, but still a visceral and thrilling piece of film-making.

Two French films bring up the rear this week. Eric Rohmer, the playful, humane veteran, gives us the third of his pellucid Contes des Quatre Saisons, namely A Summer's Tale (PG). Gaspard, a thin and shaggy-haired intellectual, is holidaying by the sea, waiting for his girlfriend Lena. He spends his evenings strumming a guitar, composing a dire sea shanty. Meanwhile, he meets babe waitress Margot, and they go on endless, chatty strolls, while Gaspard explains why he's so antisocial and useless with girls. In fact, he's not as useless as he pretends, fooling around Lothario-like with Margot, Lena and nightclub-pickup Solene. It's long, flatly shot and dialogue-heavy, but Rohmer's lightness of touch and loving wit make it pleasurably hypnotic.

Don't Forget You're Going to Die (18), meanwhile, exemplifies the flipside of Gallic cinema: all adolescent desire to shock, hitching itself desperately to high-art motifs in a vain stab at authenticity. Benoit (director/writer/star Xavier Beauvois) is an art-history student who, to avoid military service, opens a vein with his penknife, and is discovered to be HIV-positive. Cue poetically slanted descent into underworld of heroin and crack; tedious non-simulated group sex in Amsterdam. Then Benoit moves to Italy and falls in love with Claudia (photographed post-coitally on mythical white linen as an object of sacral ecstasy), only to abandon her for the next train to Split. There, laughably, he joins a Croatian guerrilla group and gets shot and killed. The big idea is that Romanticism (oh yes, Byron went to fight in a foreign war too, didn't he?) is back. Sadly, Beauvois labours under the impression that Romanticism is the same as Nihilism. Easy mistake to make, perhaps, but don't be too quick to foist it on a hapless public.

Cinema details: Going Out, page 14. Kevin Jackson is on holiday.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

    Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

    Early Years Educator

    £68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

    Nursery Nurse

    £69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

    Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam