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Jane Eyre (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Run Time 103 minutes.

OK for children

If you want romantic, this is your cup of tea. With spellbinding performances by Mia Wasikowska in the title role and Michael Fassbender as her elusive love, Rochester, some guys might find this slow, but I was completely blown away.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga takes a fine script by Moira Buffini, translating Chalotte BrontŽís 1847 novel, atmospheric cinematography by Adriano Goldman, and music by Dario Marianelli, and locates the story in the gothic house, Thornfield, at Haddan Hall in Derbyshire. Haddan Hall is one of the oldest houses in England. The original corner dates to the 11th Century.

But it wasnít just Haddan Hall that makes the Derbyshire location spectacular. The countryside, with its craggy rocks and bracken, provides the opportunity for vast shots of forbidding landscapes, especially when Jane is running away.

What really makes this film work is the heartbreakingly emotional acting by Wasikowska and Fassbender. Intentionally made to look plain, Wasikowska exhibits Janeís feisty spirit and compassionate, forgiving heart, in portraying the 19th-Century woman who overcame a horrible upbringing with very little love to still make her life worth living, even if itís just as a governess.

Previous films have cast actresses who are older than Jane was when sheís involved with Rochester. While Jane should have been around 18 years old, Joan Fontaine was 26 when she played Jane opposite Orson Welles in 1943 and Virginia Bruce was 24 when she played Jane opposite Colin Clive in 1934. Wasikowska was 21 when this was filmed, which is much more age-appropriate for the sexually and romantically inexperienced Jane.

While I felt that Wasikowska was the moving force in the film, Fassbender contributes a powerful performance as the gruff, dark, emotionally spent Rochester, a man to whom Jane is drawn despite her youth, inexperience, and low social position, which makes any proper relationship with Rochester almost inconceivable.

Even though I guess every girl reads this when sheís young, I never read it. So I was watching it with fresh eyes and it just swept me away. As far as Iím concerned, this is a donít-miss film.