More than a few readers have likely read the novel Jane Eyre in school or for pleasure, but film adaptations of the book are hit-and-miss. As a result, I wasn't expecting much of this horror/prestige hybrid telling of the now-classic story of love between the titular Jane and Mr. Rochester. Imagine my surprise when I found myself charmed and fully riveted by this version starring the gorgeous Mia Wasikowska and the drop dead beautiful/talented Michael Fassbender.
The choices made by director Cary Fukunaga are effective ones, from the in media res story structure to the twinges of terror that keep the audience on their toes. The writing is an effective adaptation, though the language sometimes flies over the audience's heads. Large blocks of dialogue are slightly muddled when the actors (Wasikowska specifically) don't deliver them with any real understanding or punch. (One of the reasons True Grit worked so well was because young star Hailee Steinfeld had a dexterity with the wordy dialogue.)
However, the film more than overcomes its shortcomings. It's a captivating tale told with aplomb. The art direction and costume design are particular highlights--look for one or both to be recognized come next year at the Academy Awards. The supporting cast was absolutely phenomenal, from the understated Judi Dench to the fabulously bitchy Sally Hawkins, who I have officially thrown my allegiance behind (all it takes is one bitchy performance...right, Winona Ryder?)
The entire film is effective in ways you'd never expect. Truly a pleasure to watch, if not as effortless as it could have been. You can see the cracks, but you happily ignore them. B+