Some stories are so compelling that filmmakers just want to have a go at them, regardless of the existence of numerous prior treatments. The newest version of Jane Eyre is a real beauty, despite the gritty realism of the settings, precisely because one has a strong feeling that one is doing a bit of time-traveling and really visiting early 19th century rural England. I thought Mia Wasikowska was excellent as Jane – one really believes the evolution and transformation of the character over the course of the story. Michael Fassbender makes a superb Rochester, albeit a more handsome one than a reader might imagine from the novel. But for me, as in several recent movies, the scene-stealers are the supporting players. In this case, there is Judi Dench, who seems to have a corner on memorable portrayals of early-19th century housekeepers or matrons, and does it again here, seemingly effortlessly. And Jamie Bell, who so impressed me in Legion, impresses me again as the village parson who takes in Jane and conceives an unrequited passion for her.
I need to say something about the music, because Marianelli's score is absolutely perfect for the story and the setting. I was really encouraged to see this movie out of a prior encounter with the score because a facebook friend, Jack Liebeck, a multi-talented young British musician, plays the violin solos and announced the availability of the soundtrack recording, which I acquired. Having heard and enjoyed the music, I needed to attend a showing of the film, and I'm glad I did.