Jane Eyre ★★★★

Appropriately dismal in setting, Cary Fukunaga's "Jane Eyre" has Mia Wasikowska in the title role, an undernourished but feisty girl who is like a walnut sapling that cannot be uprooted. The costumes, weather, dialogue and aesthetics all work together like stones in a Gothic arch to support the story.

Expect a great period film with gorgeous cinematography (such as when Jane first encounters Thornfield Hall and her flight into the heaths). Expect a stormy, emotional storyline with a bit of whalebone restrain adding to the tension.

As a Bronte fan, I might have wanted even more of her childhood story and perhaps a little more depth in Michael Fassbender's Rochester. But I think the director did well in piecing together capsules of the novel, without embarking on a 3-hour film only appealing to avid readers.

My only quibbles (besides material left out):

1) St. John should have been much more handsome. He was almost angelic in the novel. Honestly, someone very refined, almost pretty, like Robert Pattinson or Orlando Bloom, would have been more accurate.

2) I felt like they didn't cover the spiritual theme very well. Having just re-read the book the week before, it was remarkable how much Jane relies on faith and her belief in God to maintain "purity" and dignity, especially after the revelation of Rochester's secret. Bronte is overt (much more so than Jane Austen) in crediting her character's goodness to spiritual resolve, Biblical inspiration and prayer.

Two small faults. Other than those, Cary Fukunaga has created a splendid movie with sombre but gorgeous visuals. It is the best adaptation of "Jane Eyre" I've seen so far.

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