STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench
Blind love: Fassbender and Wasikowska
Few girls are more put upon than Charlotte Brontë’s orphaned Jane Eyre (Wasikowska). Taken in by her loathsome Aunt Reed (Sally Hawkins), she is dumped into a punitive boarding school. Still a mere teen, she is then hired as a governess for the French ward (Romy Settbon Moore) of moody handful Edward Fairfax Rochester (Fassbender) at his remote manor, Thornfield Hall. Jane and Edward fall in love and plan to marry, but as readers since 1847 are well aware, Edward has a crazy wife locked away upstairs. (It’s The Real Housewives of Thornfield !)
Revisiting this texturally faithful treatment from director Cary Joji Fukunaga is like catching up with old acquaintances. Wasikowska and Fassbender look every inch their parts, she laced into shades of grey but with a fighter’s direct gaze, he as haunted as any man would be with a mad bat in his belfry. Dench is a garrulous snugglebug as Thornfield housekeeper Mrs Fairfax, Billy Elliot ’s Bell is all grown up as minister St John Rivers, and the lavish production is faithfully knee-deep in breast-beating. Yet for all the swoony carry-on, its by-the-bookishness pans out as more workmanlike than wild at heart.