Jane Eyre Reviews
While qualifying as the most gorgeously appointed and finely detailed version of the novel so far, still lacks the element of essential fire to make it come fully, even subversively, to life.
Using Bronte's text as the basis for an inquiry into free will versus servitude, Fukunaga mounts a subtly shaded, yet emotionally devastating, examination of what it really means to choose one's own way.
Ms. Wasikowska works with economical purity within the novel's 19th-century English setting. Jane's personal power seems entirely her own, rather than some anachronistic notion of self-empowerment.
To no one's surprise, the story still works like Gothic gangbusters, thanks in part to reliable back-court support from Judi Dench (as Mrs. Fairfax) and Sally Hawkins (as Jane's venal guardian).
Screenwriter Moira Buffini sticks pretty closely to the novel, and director Cary Fukunaga conjures a drab tone that nicely sets off the characters' violent but rigidly controlled passions.
There is not a drab image or a middling performance in the piece. The freewheeling adaptation drops needless scenes and spurs the story ahead with galloping momentum.
Somehow Wasikowska makes it all seem much more personal, more real. With her stark, starched dresses and blunt, elastic face, she draws you in, making both Jane's pain and incredible resolve tangible.
Beauty, along with a sense of mystery, is what audiences expect in a Gothic romance, and Fukunaga delivers with carefully composed shots of austere landscapes and shadowy Victorian opulence.
You gotta hand it to Charlotte Bronte. One hundred and sixty-four years since she gave hyperkinetic Victorian schoolgirls their first sleepless nights, she's pulling them in all over again.