All-star cast does ‘Jane Eyre’ justice

Courtesy Focus Features

Since Charlotte Bronte’s seminal work “Jane Eyre” has been portrayed in what seems like a million adaptations since 1910, thinking that the most recent version by director Cary Fukunaga couldn’t bring anything new to the table was not a huge stretch. How wrong the naysayers were. This film, while not quite as pedigreed as some previous incarnations, sufficiently does justice to the source material.

Best known as the gloomier alternative to Jane Austen’s romances, “Jane Eyre” is the story of the world’s unluckiest young governess whose life, true to gothic literature, is the most depressing tale of woe. This “Jane Eyre” has the good fortune of an outstanding cast, including Mia Wasikowska, serviceable in the title role, the outrageously sexy Michael Fassbender as the broodiest Mr. Rochester in recent memory and acting demigod Judi Dench.

Wasikowska is fine in the title role, bringing Jane her own spark, but the movie belongs to Dench. Who else has won an Oscar for just eight minutes of screen time in a film? She steals each and every scene in which she’s featured, and I am of the opinion that “Jane Eyre” should really be called “Mrs. Fairfax.” Dench should be in every movie made from this point forward. She is an international treasure.

Likewise, Fassbender is gorgeous and his Rochester is worth every bit of emotional hell which Jane suffers on his behalf. Hell, I would wander around the English moors through pouring rain and then some for Fassbender’s cryptic aristocrat. Sally Hawkins and Jamie Bell also shine in smaller roles, and Amelia Clarkson deserves special praise for her spunky portrayal of the younger Jane Eyre.

“Jane Eyre” isn’t perfect. At times it nears becoming slightly ponderous, but overall it has the potential to transfix audiences’ bodies and souls.

Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at sbpilchick@themiamihurricane.com.

Rating: 3/4 stars
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender
Directed By: Cary Fukunaga
MPAA Rating: PG-13