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Jane Eyre - Movie Review by CinemaScavarda

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Postively Sublime.

Director Cary Fukunaga has created a delicious version of the timeless Jane Eyre. Fukunaga starts the film with a grown-up, desolate Jane desperately racing across the moor in frightful weather. Fukunaga's opening sequence, filmed with the proper Gothic aplomb, is gorgeous, engaging and terrifically effective; Fukunaga succeeds in immediately drawing us into Jane's plight.

Jane arrives more than half-drowned on the doorstep of the Rivers siblings, who revive her, provide shelter and ultimately a new teaching job. Moira Buffini's riveting screenplay tells Jane's upbringing and governess story in flashback from her arrival on the Rivers' doorstep. This is a nice take on telling Jane Eyre. Since it is a safe bet (and a challenge) that well over half of the audience knows what transpires, reviewing Jane's young life by revisiting only the key points in her development moves us forward to her arrival at Thornfield. Since what happens at Thornfield is the reason we paid admission, kudos to Buffini for getting us there quickly and concisely.

Mia Wasikowska (In Treatment, The Kids are All Right and Alice in Wonderland) plays Jane. Jane has been outcast and abused as a child yet has an intelligence and decency that is not marred by anger, jealousy or meanness. Using posture, a direct gaze, eyes fraught with feeling and a stark bun on the back of her head, Wasikowska evokes Jane's purity of mind and spirit perfectly. When Rochester arrives and is drawn to her, the viewer instantly both believes and understands the attraction to the lowly, plain governess. It must be noted that Buffini maintains the early days feminist pieces of the text in her script. Jane does not rail against her lot in life although she clearly understands she would like more out of it. She maintains her identity and does not allow herself to be foolishly swept off her feet by the rich and dashing lord of the manor, Rochester. Yes, she falls in love with him but not in any damsel in distress way. Wasikowska's Jane maintains her dignity and self-possession throughout. You definitely see her as his equal or better in all things but monetary worth.

In the Charlotte Brontë text, Rochester is physically unattractive. Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds, 300) is decidely not. Fassbender's Rochester is dashing, sarcastic of tongue and quite smitten with Jane's directness of gaze and manner. Fassbender brings us a Rochester that is less cruel than Brontë's and far more dashing, appealing and, yes, sexy. [In the script, Jane defends herself twice against accusations that she is liar. Personally, it amused when Rochester asks Jane if she finds him attractive and she replies that he is not. Uh Jane, that was not exactly an honest response, my dear.]

Thanks to Buffini's script and Fukunaga's direction, Wasikowska and Fassbender banter, simmer, speak without words, gaze longingly at one another and, in general, throw sparks all over the screen. Extra kudos to Wasikowska who takes some of the very famous text and delivers it freshly and spiritedly, especially the very famous “poor, plain, obscure and little” speech.

Fukunaga has created a lush film, both cavernous, wet and dreary and blossom-filled and lovely, as appropriate. Add a captivating soundtrack filled with strings, leading performances drenched in romance and longing and a timeless story of a heroine who stands on her own through it all. As stated of this review's outset, a positively sublime piece of film making.

Rating – 9.5 out of 10

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