WHAT I LIKED: There are certainly some great things in Cary Fukunaga and Moira Buffini's 'Jane Eyre,' but mainly it's the central chemistry between governess Jane Eyre and land-owner Edward Rochester that's worth writing home about. Jane is a quiet, mysterious soul who we never really understand until her first encounter with Edward who begins to unravel her like he's peeling an onion, and that's a fascinating thing to watch. The dialogue between the two is good, but the performances that bring the pair to life are masterful; Michael Fassbender lending his unbelievable, domineering and yet nervy screen presence, and Mia Wasikowska brilliantly guarding herself and both her vulnerability and strong will until she begins to fall in love.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The biggest issue with the film is a structural/narrative one. After the interesting opening, it begins very slowly - showing Jane as a child and her early years but sadly without every really successfully getting underneath her skin or developing her info a layered individual. When she finally meets Edward it's great stuff, but then the narrative kicks into full speed and starts tumbling to cram in all the necessary twists and turns of their blossoming relationship before the two hours is up. Their proposal and subsequent break-up is written glibly, as are her reunitings with her aunt and an older Edward, and the result is a film that's rather difficult to engage with. Indeed, one can't help thinking that if they'd cut out some of the plodding first half and snapped through the interesting meat of the story with less speed, they might have had a really great adaptation on their hands. Instead, it's a rather messy one, and is a rare occasion where the term "poorly-paced," genuinely applies.
VERDICT: A poorly-paced execution of a classic tale, Cary Fukunaga and Moira Buffini's 'Jane Eyre,' is left scrambling to cram in its narrative, and sadly the affect of that can't fully be saved by two great central performances.