Jane Eyre (2011 film)

I hate people. You watch (or read) Jane Eyre today, and you think about how far we have come. But have we? Really? People have evolved, but so have the ways one can be cruel to another. You know the world is upsidedown when a simple act of kindness can make me cry more than scores of inhumanities.

Cary Fukunaga is not the first name one would think of when it comes to British period drama, but maybe that’s why Jane Eyre works so well. It’s not so much a case of breathing new life into an old story as it is taking a novel and paring it down to the essentials; taking what would normally be a multi part series told over several Sunday nights, and condensing it into a two hour film, without losing the plot.

Needless to say, Mia Wasikowska is perfect in the title role. Not only is she a talented actress, she has what some would refer to as a “period face,” which I am told is an attribute that casting agents and directors look for. Who knew?

Michael Fassbender is all pent up emotions as Mr. Rochester, which is something he does well. He has a very good resting conflicted face. I think it’s a law that Judi Dench must appear in costume dramas–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Jamie Bell, Harry Lloyd, and Imogen Poots are among the supporting cast; the latter pair I did not recognise at first.

You could say Moira Buffini took liberties with the script, but Charlotte Bronte did craft a five hundred page novel, so some trimming was necessary. There are moments in this version that have not appeared in previous adaptations; which is nice. Fukunaga didn’t modernize the story, but he did employ modern sensibilities, which is why Jane Eyre will live on forever.

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