Charlotte Bronte’s classic has been adapted for screen countless times, and yet Cary Fukunaga’s version feels anything but staid or obvious. He and screenwriter Moira Buffini have chosen to start the story well into the source material, with the heroine’s breathless escape from Thornfield Hall, her black cape falling around her pale skin as she traverses the wild landscape alone.
Pulling things along, aside from flashbacks to Jane’s nightmarish childhood, is a sense of sexual repression. Like its insipid contemporary spawn Twilight, the virginal heroine is pursued by an intimidating hero, their desires illuminated by candlelight as they engage in amusing banter. Things continue to smoulder even after they’ve put out the blazing bedsheets. Aussie actress Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) as Jane and intense Irish actor Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) as Mr Rochester have such electrifying chemistry it elevates the plain Jane into an object of desire. And yet Wasikowska is commendably subtle as Jane, the smallest nuances communicating emotion, while Fassbender musters the ideal combination of steeliness and passion and Dame Judi Dench creates a dependable observer in Mrs Fairfax.
Jane Eyre was always a tale of deceit, a theme this film dutifully portrays even if the unveiling of Rochester’s dark secret doesn’t quite shock as it could have done. But this Jane Eyre nonetheless maintains its gothic allure. It will no doubt send Bronte-virgins back to the books. Hide