Jane Eyre

Rated 4.0

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini give us Charlotte Brontë’s gothic melodrama in exquisitely somber and understated form—romance combined with bracing psychological grit. Mia Wasikowska (in the title role) and Michael Fassbender (as Edward Rochester) are both superb within the film’s incisively scaled-down characterizations of the two provocatively mismatched figures who are at the heart of the story’s romantic appeal. Fukunaga and cinematographer Adriano Goldman give richly observed attention to the moors and manor houses of the story. And Buffini’s script, which reframes Brontë’s narrative via a flashback structure, starts Jane’s story in the midst of her penultimate dramatic crisis—which puts her adrift in the moors and needing yet another domicile right from the start. That approach eases up the tempting melodramatic sensationalism of Brontë’s novel, and it also creates a sharper focus on the emerging facets of Jane’s character—from abused orphan to gifted governess to darkly subdued romantic heroine. And it all pays off in a quietly magical way—we get a lot more psychological realism than is usually the case with gothic romance, classical or not, and the passions involved seem more genuine as a result. Pageant Theatre. Rated PG-13