Saturday, 20 August 2016

Alternate Best Actor 2011: Michael Fassbender in Jane Eyre

Michael Fassbender did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Edward Fairfax Rochester in Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre has been adapted a countless number of times (and by that I mean I don't feel like counting) and I've seen one of them. Although I can't compare this to other adaptations I will say it's visually remarkable with appropriately atmospheric direction from Cary Fukunaga.

The film follows through the perspective of a young woman, the title character (Mia Wasikowska) as she goes through a harsh often lonely life during the mid-eighteen hundreds in England. This eventually leads her to become the governess of Thornfield Hall, the home of Fassbender's Mr. Rochester. He's presented as a mystery as much of the story focuses on uncovering that mystery as well as specifically Jane's relationship with the man. 2011 was of course a banner year for Michael Fassbender since he also appeared in Shame, X-Men: First Class, and A Dangerous Method which were released all in the same year. Jane Eyre I suppose is the smallest of these roles, though like Laurence Olivier in Rebecca, his character always seems as important as Jane despite his much more limited screentime. Now I guess Fassbender has a bit of an advantage here in that I have not seen any other actor play the role, which is long list including the likes of Orson Welles, William Hurt, and George C. Scott.

Being unable to compare I'll just have to take Fassbender's version on its own. Well the first time we see Rochester he falls riding his horse as first meets Jane. Rochester begins with his darker hues most prevalent though Fassbender downplays this with his performance. That is Fassbender does not exactly play it all, playing more like Rochester is just having a bit of fun. Fassbender underlies this with a bit of intensity, but in the end he brings more levity than one would expect as Rochester jokes about Jane having bewitched his horse. The story proceeds as Jane acts his governess and she observes Rochester go on about his life as they are separated by class. Although we are never given Rochester's perspective Fassbender makes use of his reactions towards Jane well. Fassbender portrays a greater interest in the slight glances than merely an employer watching his employee. Fassbender effectively conveys the growing affection in Rochester, though still remaining silent for the time being and  keeping a certain distance, for Jane especially after she saves him from a fire.

Fassbender does not convey a simplistic attitude in Rochester though as he accentuates the history of the character in his work. This includes the history of his class as Fassbender brings the stiffness in the scenes where he interacts with others of his class, as he keeps his behavior proper though as a man being someone he is not. When he is with Jane Fassbender brings a stronger degree of honesty in the way he puts forth the man's emotions, though this in itself is still complicated. Fassbender keeps a certain pain in his manner, and still almost a shyness as he shirks from being wholly genuine for a moment. Fassbender brings the needed complexity of a man pulled back by his past, but prodded forward by something true to his heart. Fassbender brings the right awkwardness to the first scene where Rochester sort of declares his love for Jane, by asking her what she would do to ensure his happiness. Fassbender makes Rochester stumble as he should as a man at odds with himself as he says what he means, but never does it seem to be the absolute truth.

Fassbender rightfully expresses a fuller change in Rochester, after Jane leaves for a time, revealing a man who no longer wishes to risk unhappiness. Fassbender chemistry with Wasikowska is curious yet I found to be rather affecting. The connection that the two establish is very particular in that both of them reveal direct emotion, in a time defined by repression, only in their moment of revealing their love for one another. They come together exactly away from the emotional shackles implanted on them through their pasts to reveal better individuals. Fassbender brings a more active charm after the moment of declaration slowly suggesting a man finally content with his existence. Of course being a story set with a large estate though something must threaten to separate the two, this being the revelation of Rochester's pain and past which is his mad wife which prevents Jane and Rochester from being married. Of course this also must lead to further tragedy, though this story does prevent any further suffering as the two are reunited in the end, poor Rochester just needed to be blinded and scarred first. It is a surprisingly short scene yet I found it rather powerful. The scene almost entirely relies on Wasikowska and Fassbender, and they successfully find the poignancy within the reunion. The brevity of it seems right as the two already established the nature of their love, and the two show the scene to be a gentle reminder of this. Now Fassbender might have a slight advantage in that this my first exposure to a portrayal of Edward Fairfax Rochester, however all I can say is the performance worked for me. I'd be surprised if this is the definitive version of the character, but it is a compelling one.


Calvin Law said...

Thoughts and rating for Wasikowska and Bell? I quite like this adaptation for its technical qualities. Fassbender is given the unenviable task of a watered down version of an already limited role, but he does well with it and I was impressed.

As for other Rochesters, Hurt I would not recommend as he's terrible. Welles is okay, Ciaran Hinds is very average, Timothy Dalton is really good.

The best though is believe it or not, Toby Stephens. Great performance.

Anonymous said...

Still haven't seen him.
Louis: Your cast and director for:
Birdman (1950's version)
12 Monkeys (1960's version)
Magnolia (1980's version)

Calvin Law said...

Louis: thoughts and rating for Harcourt Williams in Brighton Rock? I've always thought he was absolutely essential to some of Attenborough's best scenes in that film (especially the stairwell scene).

RatedRStar said...

Ive heard Ben Hur is poor but not quite as poor as I was expecting, most reviewers have said that its ending is insanely bad lol.

Louis Morgan said...


Bell - 3(I liked his performance well enough. He brings a certain decency along with certain awkwardness in his inability to really connect with Jane. His performance works, but does not make too much of an impact)

Wasikowska - 4.5(Again can't compare her to other Jane's but I really liked what she did with the role. She brings the right kind of closed off emotion representation of the character's position and state, yet still exudes this certain spirit even within this that makes her stand out in the right fashion. The sense of all her past sufferings are within Wasikowska's performance, while she does not portray an exact despair. Even with the strict restrictions of the role Wasikowska always allows a definite empathy with Jane, exploring what she can in a very modest fashion. When she does reveal Jane's emotion more directly, they are particularly affecting and earned)


Birdman 1950's directed by Powell and Pressburger

Riggan Thomson: Boris Karloff
Mike Shiner: James Mason
Laura: Deborah Kerr
Sam: Jean Simmons
Jake: Roger Livesey
Lesley: Jessica Tandy
Sylvia: Valerie Hobson
Tabitha: Gladys Cooper

12 Monkeys 1960's directed by Robert Wise

James Cole: Charlton Heston
Kathryn Railly: Claire Bloom
Jeffrey Goines: Tom Courtenay
Dr. Goines: Claude Rains
Dr. Peters: Murray Hamilton

Magnolia 1980's directed by Robert Altman

Stanley Spector: Wil Wheaton
Frank T.J. Mackey: Mickey Rourke
Jimmy Gator: Peter Ustinov
Rose Gator: Joanne Woodward
Phil Pharma: Robin Williams
Donnie Smith: Rene Auberjonois
Solomon: Ben Kingsley
Linda Patridge: Amy Madigan
Jim Kurring: Tom Noonan
Earl Patridge: Hume Cronyn
Claudia Gator: Veronica Cartwright

Calvin Law said...

Opening narration by Tom Waits perhaps? (for the Magnolia retroactive cast)

Deiner said...

Great review Louis, and I absolutely agree with his rating; he's good but nothing spectacular. I was more fascinated with Wasikowska as well. What did you think of Judi Dench here?
On a side note, I really like the poster of this film haha

Michael Patison said...

Agree on every point of this and would give both he and Bell the exact scores you have. Wasikowska is a different story, where, while I'm glad you thought she was great, she's an easy 5 for me.

Also, are you sure you think he's lead? I can definitely see it, but I'd put him in supporting myself.

Will you be watching Headhunters before releasing your updated rankings?

Michael McCarthy said...

Luke: Just thought I'd let you know that I haven't forgotten you're request for my thoughts on the cast of Hell or High Water, I've just been dealing with moving into my apartment for school and getting ready for a few auditions in the last few days. I plan to get you those thoughts when I can though.

Calvin Law said...

Good luck Michael!

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Clancy Brown's performance in The Shawshank Redemption.

RatedRStar said...

Good luck =D =D

RatedRStar said...

@Michael McCarthy

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: from Michael Palin's Life of Brian review,

Brown - 4(He makes no bones about it his character is just a brute, and Brown delivers in being one vicious and miserable fiend. I like that he's no always intense, and has those slightly lighter moments where he's just talking like a normal guy, making so when the intensity does come out it has the impact needed. )

Calvin Law said...

Also realise you might've skipped over them, but what are your thoughts on the Hacksaw Ridge trailer, and thoughts/rating for Harcourt Williams in Brighton Rock.

Calvin Law said...

So I finally watched Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and I must say I'd probably put Reilly over Affleck and Bale (and I really like those performances). He really gave his all into that film and it's a shame it flopped; I really enjoyed it myself.

Robert MacFarlane said...

What a coincidence, I watched Walk Hard last nigh as well.

Gus B. said...

Wasikowska is an easy 5 for me as well, and I must say it's pretty hard for me to decide who's my overall win - if it's either her or Rooney Mara. I keep myself with the latter, but the 'competition' is really tough.

Also, her, Mara and Cotillard are the actresses who I think are the most successful with the subtlety way - all of them convey so much with so little, specially with their eyes.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Although he was never considered for the role, do you think Fonda could have been a great Atticus Finch?

Louis Morgan said...


I thought it was very standard Dench, not bad, served the role well enough, but I didn't think it was anything remarkable.

Michael Patinson:

We'll see.


I could see a Waits narration, but I'd say for 80's just keep Ricky Jay, and Henry Gibson for that matter.

The Hacksaw Ridge trailer looks visually stunning which I suppose is to be expected from Gibson. I'm not sure about Garfield's accent, but I will wait to see how it works in the film. As the trailer as a whole I wish it played closer to the chest, even with a true story, however I'm still very excited to see it. The story itself is fascinating, and with Gibson's eyes for visuals it could be something special.

Williams - 3.5(William Hartnell stood out more for me, but I did like Williams. His performance is rather moving in portraying a character with a definite conscience that's eating away at him which stands in contrast to Attenborough's unrepentant portrayal of Pinkie. Williams is affecting in portraying the growing fear in the character as Pinkie's coverup becomes more extreme. He could go up, as could Hartnell, if I re-watched the film)


I'd say he could have been, same with James Stewart. I actually don't think anyone would have bested Peck in that role though.

Matt Mustin said...

I'm not gonna make a habit of doing this, but I just want to quickly plug my own Performance Reviews blog, because I'm trying to get some more followers.

Calvin Law said...

I guess it might be because I'm not familiar with it, but I kind of love Garfield's choice of accent in the Hacksaw Ridge trailer. He has a very appealing and soothing voice, that's for sure; I really want him to work with Jesse Eisenberg again because the way their voices clashed so to speak in TSN was quite something.

Louis Morgan said...

La La Land trailer 2

Looks amazing.


I don't mind, plug away.

Calvin Law said...

That looks utterly beautiful.

Robert MacFarlane said...

God these trailers are good. I'm trying to temper my expectations since Whiplash has considerably soured on me.

Calvin Law said...

Whiplash is my Best Picture win for 2014 but this seems to be an entirely different sort of beast, so I wouldn't worry about that.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who thinks that Ryan Gosling may have just a sole Oscar nomination like Steve McQueen for a film that nobody talks about since he always never seems close to contention for an Oscar Nomination, even for La La Land all the Oscar talk is about Emma Stone rather than Gosling. Ryan Gosling is very comparable to Steve McQueen I think.

94dfk1 said...

I'm confident that Gosling will eventually snag another nomination, though I don't know when. And I do think Half-Nelson is pretty much forgotten by now.

I saw War Dogs yesterday. Picture a Scorsese movie...directed by Todd Phillips instead. I still liked it though. 4/5.

Hill - 4.5 (I liked every minute of his performance, especially his quieter moments. His laugh worked well for the character and he brings a certain essence where you're not sure if you should trust him or not.)

Teller - 4 (Gives a good leading performance that does its job, and lets you know what he's experiencing. He makes the change to international gun runner seem natural and takes his time with it, while at the same time making it appear that he knows he's way in over his head.)

Cooper - 3 (Doesn't appear all that much and his character could've been played by anyone if we're being honest. Does an OK job and is believable as a shady arms dealer.)

Armas - 2.5 (Might be more of a problem with the way her character was written, since Phillips isn't particularly known for writing rich female characters. Her accent was sort of distracting.)

Pollak- 3 (Not given much to do, but he was fine.)

Alex Marqués said...

I think Half Nelson is one of Gosling's very best performances.

Matt Mustin said...

I think Gosling's excellent in Half Nelson, but I think the movie is a little too long.

Robert MacFarlane said...

Half Nelson could use another rewatch for me.

RatedRStar said...

I really liked Half Nelson and Gosling 2, but yes I think Half Nelson is pretty much forgotten by the public, I am pretty certain that Gosling was the surprise nominee in that 2006 race but we will wait and see, it doesn't help that as usual 2016 Best Actor looks stacked, while 2006 was a very small field with the same 5 actors (2 Leo performances) appearing in most of the big ceremonies.

Ryan Gosling was born in 1980 so I am sure he will be here long enough to get a second nomination.

Calvin Law said...

Really didn't like Half Nelson or Blue Valentine all that much, but I must admit he's very good in them. My favourite Gosling performances are easily Lars and the Real Girl, and of course Drive. I really like him in The Nice Guys, but that film's not sitting very well with me as I've mentioned.

mcofra7 said...

I'm probably the minority here but I didn't like Gosling in Drive. It had a lot to do with the way the character was written. I felt like the socially awkward man and the man capable of violence were like two different characters and there wasn't anything to bridge the gap.

Robert MacFarlane said...

I interpreted Gosling in Drive as a seemingly quiet man whose more or less a psychopath.

Anonymous said...

Drive is probably my favorite performance from Gosling. It's a perfect minimalistic performance.

Calvin Law said...

mcfroa7: My thoughts were actually somewhat in line with yours first time I watched the film. A re-watch might help though I promise nothing. Watching Le Samourai might have kind of helped too (although two actually very different types of characters).

Anonymous said...

Louis: Rating and thoughts on Jason Robards in A Thousand Clowns?

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: I agree with you on The Nice Guys. I only thought it was ok. I really liked Gosling there, however. Blue Valentine is a film I've definitely seen, but cannot remember if my life depended on it. Haven't seen him in Lars and The Real Girl.

Robert: Interesting take. I liked how he seemingly looked like he could kill someone at the blink of an eye.

mcofra7: I felt that Carey Mulligan's character was the bridge you're talking about. He really likes her but can't bring himself to show it, and of course, the now infamous elevator scene, where he demonstrates regret for his act of violence, especially since he did it right in front of her and her kid. Without her, he's two personalities. With her, those personalities conflict with each other.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your thoughts on the scores of The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, Gladiator, Braveheart, There Will Be Blood and Schindler's List.

Anonymous said...

Louis: Your top 10 minimalistic performances.

Louis Morgan said...


Robards - 2.5(I don't hate his work as much as the film, but I do find him rather obnoxious rather than endearing in his loud moments. He's okay when he's a bit more somber, but not enough to make up for my distaste of his other scenes.)


The Lord of the Rings - (Howard Shore after doing much more, well say intimate work, proved himself more than capable of tackling an epic with his work in every film. His scores of course add so much as the provide the grand sweep you want for such a story, but also aid in the atmosphere of the film in addition to the understanding of every setting as well as character. This is whether it is the rough tones of the Mordor themes, the grandeur of the Fellowship theme, the warmth of the Shire, the Rohan theme that just feels medieval.)

Gladiator - (Zimmer's score is what you what sweeping epics are made of. The score in itself is extremely memorable on its own yet provides such power to any given scene it is heard in the film. The Barbarian Horde, though obviously taking inspiration from Holst's "The Planets", is one of the most rousing themes that will grace anyone's ear. The entire score provides such a pivotal impact in basically every scene of the film, that makes the entire film a step above all by itself)

Braveheart - (Another gorgeous score to be sure. There is such poignancy in the quieter themes used in the more intimate moments of the film with special note should be made for its spine chilling use of the flute. The grand is there as well, interlaced with the intimate often, to provide such stirring power to every image. Hearing the Bannockburn theme ought to encourage anyone to charge the field in the name of FREEDOM!)

There Will Be Blood - (A downright daring score by Greenwood, and as used by Anderson, given how technically intrusive it often is. The score is often so curious yet always so captivating. There is something dreamlike about much of it giving almost a sense of the appeal of such an ambition as Plainview. This is always underlined brilliantly through the technical harshness of much of it, yet never harsh on the ears that is. The conflict, and violence of greed seems within those strokes of the horsehairs. The entire score is such a perfect embodiment of all there is within the mind of Danile Plainview.)

Schindler's List - (One of the saddest scores one will hear, and although is technically not always subtle it earns given the subject matter. Williams's work, which is a bit out of his wheelhouse in terms of style, is heartbreaking in itself. It seems lined with lost souls yet within the despair one can feel just a hint of hope in it all.)


Hard to define what exactly counts, but I tried.

1. Gene Hackman - The Conversation
2. Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
3. John Hurt - The Elephant Man
4. Alain Delon - Le Samourai
5. Ryan Gosling - Drive
6. Masayuki Mori - Rashomon
7. Gary Oldman - JFK
8. Steve McQueen - Papillon
9. Toshiro Mifune - Red Beard
10. Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies