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Movie review: 'Jane Eyre' (3 stars)

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre
3 stars
Directed by Cary Fukunaga
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell
Rated PG-13

Charlotte Brontë’s iconic “Jane Eyre” has been turned into 16 feature films and eight TV versions, as well as operas, ballets and even a graphic novel. So it’s fair to go into this latest cinematic adaptation wondering what, if anything, there’s left to say on screen about Brontë’s heroine, and why filmmaker Cary Fukunaga felt compelled to revisit her world.

Yet to be preoccupied with such matters is to dismiss the skill and conviction Fukunaga brings to the project, as well as the timeless power of Brontë’s portrait of enduring, quiet strength in the face of severe social restrictions.

Rising star Mia Wasikowska ("The Kids Are All Right") makes a powerful Jane. Her scenes with Michael Fassbender, as Jane’s employer/lover Rochester, are rife with a passion that belies the stodginess of many high-minded literary flicks.

The screenplay, by Moira Buffini, enhances our understanding of Jane’s psychology by offering a fractured chronological look at her time as the governess at Thornfield Hall, while the cinematography emphasizes the haunted grays and moody browns of Rochester’s wooded domicile. 

The film is still, above all, a faithful adaptation, classical in tone, and Fukunaga shies away from any radical innovations. But it marks a vivid return to a world defined by antiquated social mores and timeless emotions — the desire to love and be loved, and to control our own destinies.    

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