Recently relishing Stacy Schiff’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Cleopatra” realizing that although attractive, Cleopatra’s compelling magnetism, allure rose from the radiance, brilliance of her mind, not the perfection of her countenance; the greatest men of her time could not rid themselves of her ebullient wit, comprehensive knowledge, sagacity, linguistic skills; she was a woman who knew that long after man’s incapacity to control the “life’ below the toga had withered, the intellect could still be ignited and the potency of its power enflame, entrance them well into their dotage.
There have been many actresses (Joan Fontaine, Charlotte Gainsburg) who have excelled as the hapless “Jane” but when Charlotte Bronte wrote the novel in 1847 she might have envisioned Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland” , “The Kids Are All Right”) as the quintessential heroine; a composite of a young woman who championed life’s vicissitudes, protected her steely resolve, knowing that integrity is a gift, a fortress never to be vanquished by the petty, supercilious mores, conventional codes of the times. Wasikowska captures the unencumbered, indomitable spirit of Jane and gives a magnificent, incredulous performance.
Michael Fassbender (“Inglorious Basterds”) as Edward Rochester is equally powerful as the enigmatic, romantically brooding, tortured Mr. Rochester. Fassbender’s portrayal is softer, less intimidating, frightening than Rochesters’ of the past (Orson Welles, William Hurt); he graces the role with levity and gentleness; Edward has been educated and exposed to the darkness and destructiveness concealed behind a mask of daunting beauty; wisdom invades the heart, culminating in a bond that is pungent and glorious; he succumbs to her keen, insightful intelligence and loves unequivocally; love that transcends all stringent dictates of the 19th century.
Conscientious supporting cast : Judi Dench (Mrs. Fairfax); Jamie Bell (St. John Rivers); Amelia Clarkson (Jane, age 10); Sally Hawkins (Mrs. Reed) shed a gritty didactic message resulting in the ultimate success of “Jane Eyre”.
Lusciously filmed: dilapidated, baronial estates where dread and dampness prevail; smoky mists, masking surprises; sweeping uncompromising terrains, casting a spell over a viewer willing, longing for the hypnotic, transformative effects of a genuinely fine film.