Jane Eyre has been given a fresh coat of paint and it’s stunning to behold. Directed by Cary Fukunaga, based on Charlotte Brontë’s novel, with screenplay by Moira Buffini, Jane Eyre 2011 is romantic, eerie, and very well-acted.
Mia Wasikowska, seen most recently in The Kids Are Alright, is perfectly cast as Jane. She infuses her character with just the right amount of quiet spunk to stand up to Mr. Rochester and all other obstacles that come Jane’s way.
Michael Fassbender is a revelation as Rochester. My only point of reference for Rochester is in the form of Orson Welles from the 1944 version I’ve enjoyed countless times on television and Orson Welles is no Michael Fassbender. Welles played the role as sinister and brooding. Fassbender‘s Rochester is more eccentric than sinister and more lonely than brooding. Not to make less of Orson Welles, but Fassbender’s interpretation is more entertaining to watch and complements Wasikowaska effortlessly. And wow, is he gorgeous in a Daniel Day-Lewis kind of way.
But I digress. The supporting cast is impeccable, too. Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers, Jane’s rescuer and potential suitor, brings just the right touch of denseness and sweetness to his role. He’s proven to be a very versatile actor. Judi Dench is just right as Mrs. Fairfax, Rochester’s housekeeper, and is far more likeable than was the 1944 version. Sally Hawkins, so bubbly and perky in Happy- Go-Lucky, is nearly unrecognizable in looks and tone as Jane’s heartless, greedy Aunt. Finally, Amelia Clarkson as the young Jane and Romy Settbon Moore as Mr. Rochester’s charge, Adele, are very real and unprecocious in their respective roles.
Fukunaga is a former cinematographer and it shows. Although Jane Eyre 2011 is more bare-bones than other productions, it has a melancholy splendor about it that is highlighted by the hauntingly beautiful piano and violin solos throughout the film.
Jane Eyre 2011 is not your grandmother’s Jane Eyre, but it’s destined to be a classic on its own.
Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema 7235 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD
Landmark E Street Cinema 555 11th Street NW, Washington, DC
Loews Shirlington 7 2772 South Randolph St., Arlington, VA
3 ½ nuggets out of 4