I know what you’re thinking: you’re probably up to there with Jane Eyre. Afterall, this 1847 novel about a young governess and her brooding master has been shoved down our throats since school. Not to mention the countless film versions that have been carved out the book, plus nine TV movies. Can anything feel fresh anymore? The answer is yes, and the proof is the new big screen adaptation. Mia Wasikowska, who made such a good impression in last year’s “Alice In Wonderland” and “The Kids Are All Right”, is compelling in the title role and does not disappoint at all. Michael Fassbender’s reputation is also growing, starring in such films as “Inglourious Basterds” and the fascinating “X-Men: First Class”. He embodies Mr. Rochester with the ideal blend of charisma and sinister brooding, while at the same time allowing glimpses of the wounded depths of his soul. Make no mistake, the man’s a terrific actor. Jamie Bell and Judy Dench round up the principal cast, with Dench terrific as always as housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax. The locations have been carefully chosen aswell, and we owe it all to director Cary Fukunaga, who makes excellent use of Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, one of the oldest houses in England, as Thornfield Hall. The exterior locations (gardens, cliff and endless fields) are beautiful, and make an arresting backdrop for the story. You truly feel as though you were back to the 19th century.
“Jane Eyre” weighs in at two hours, and I can’t help but feel that it could have been slightly better, had the script been trimmed a little bit. But I don’t think fans of the novel are going to object, because the movie’s strengths (interesting characters, eye opening locations, and talented lead actors) ultimately outweighs its faults. Do not miss it.