I saw this four weeks before it opened in wide release, but I wanted to see it a second time before I wrote my [SPOILER FREE!] review. I came into this movie slightly skeptical. One, because I hadn't like Mia Wasikowska in any of her earlier roles, and two, I was defensive because I felt this movie might replace Pride and Prejudice to an audience with a short attention span. I was having none of that. However, as soon as the movie began, my preconceptions melted away.
As I settled into the film, I realized how silly it was of me to be worried that it could take the place of Pride and Prejudice to viewers. They are two very different types of stories, and just as the books were vastly different (although written around the same time period), so are the movies. Jane Eyre's tone is melancholy and somber, which is reflected in the bleak English countryside and low lighting throughout the film. But this movie doesn't need a lot of bright lights because the performances are what really shine (Yeah, I totally just segued into the next paragraph with a corny movie-critic pun. DEAL WITH IT).
Mia Wasikowska finally won me over, and I was so thankful she did it early on. If she hadn't I may not have been able to really sink into the movie, but I did! She was genuine and believable. She did a great job and I finally agree she was cast correctly! Winning me over was a big accomplishment for her (as I was trying hard not to give in), but on top of that, the fact that she fits so well in a role as iconic as Jane Eyre shows her potential. She'll be doing some damage in the future. Michael Fassbender was wonderful as well. Rochester is not an easy role to fill because he is another romantic hero that so many women read about and idealize. To live up to that character's title can be intimidating. He did it with grace, charisma, and charm. He was easy to love while still being difficult, abrupt, and antagonistic. He certainly had me swooning by the time Rochester proclaimed his feelings for Jane. (I'm just a sucker for the Byronic hero, every time!)
The first trailer I saw for Jane Eyre was really interesting to me. It made it seem like the film was a horror/thriller. Anyone who has read the book, although there is a lot of Gothic imagery, knows that it's not a horror story. If this was how you felt about the movie preview, rest easy. There are a few moments where you jump, but nothing that changes the tone of the story or insinuates that something supernatural is present. However, this story does deal with some shocking twists and turns, so the suspenseful pauses and music only add to it. It doesn't distract.
Overall I loved this movie. I think that it has a pretty good shot at making a dent on awards season next year, if the Academy has a good memory (we shall see). It's a beautiful adaptation of a classic piece of literature and I believe that many of the book's fans will be happy to see these characters come to life on the big screen.