Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) stars as the title character in this Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of the classic novel, Jane Eyre. Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Bastards) plays the mysterious Mr. Rochester, and Dame Judi Dench appears as the housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax.
As far as movie adaptations go, this one seems to just barely miss the mark. [Spoilers ahead for the novel and film]. The movie starts out well by beginning with Jane running across the Moors and winding up on the River’s doorstep. The main part of the story is told through flashbacks. For people unfamiliar with the book, it would make them wonder how she ended up here.
The film skips quite a few iconic moments from the novel and it all feels like a rush to get out of Jane’s childhood in order to get her to Thornfield Hall. The problem is that the real charm of the novel is knowing how Jane’s mind works and how she has become the person she is when she meets Rochester. Most of her school life is condensed into only a few scenes, and her mentor Miss Temple is completely absent. Probably the biggest change is that the Rivers are no longer her relatives. This is a major deviation from the novel and makes Jane’s connection to them feel less important.
While it worked well in the book, it is really disappointing that the fire scene isn’t shown on film. All we see is the charred remains of the mansion and Mrs. Fairfax gives a speech about what happened. Film is the perfect format to show all the drama and action of the scene and is really the only thing that should change from the novel to a film adaptation.
On the positive side, the film is beautiful to look at and the atmosphere and mood is well executed. The costumes, make-up, and sets are amazing and the cinematography and music set the tone perfectly. The actors all do a fantastic job (even though Fassbender is probably too attractive to be Rochester).
If you are a big fan, you might want to check this film out for surface instead of substance.
I give it 3/5 stars.