What is it about British period dramas that make me swoon? A combination of things, I suppose, the English countryside, which plays its own role in each of them, the language – words like transfix, insolence, derision – words long lost in our impatient world. The clothes they wore, the etiquette they insisted on practicing, the large stone mansions with shadowy hallways and heavy, wooden doors…I love all of it. For all you fellow anglophiles out there, add the 2011 rendition of Jane Eyre to your list of must see’s. I assure you: it will not disappoint.
Though my mother recommended Charlotte Bronte’s novel to me ages ago, it is a book I’ve simply never gotten around to reading. (Now, it’s first on my list, just as soon as I can finish the book I’m currently reading.) I knew it involved a young woman and a somewhat older, somewhat hardened man and, of course, that it was set in England sometime during the early 19th century, but otherwise, I knew nothing of the plot. Then, one recent afternoon, while perusing the internet, I saw this:
I put it at the top of my Netflix queue, immediately sent back the movie that had nearly become a part of my TV stand and waited eagerly for it to arrive in my mailbox. Usually I prefer to read the book on which a movie is based before seeing that movie, but I’m pleased this time that I did it the other way around. The suspense and mystery was intoxicating, keeping me held in delicious anticipation from beginning to end. Even now, I find myself reluctant to say anything of the story for fear of ruining the experience for you, dear readers. (Though I know, of course, this is a famous and beloved classic and many of you will, no doubt, already have a good understanding of it.) I will say nothing that is not already revealed in the trailer. Simply that this is a fiercely smart and passionate love story, as clever as Austen but nearly as dark and gothic as Shelley.
Michael Fassbender stars as the male lead and continues to impress me with each role I see him in. I adored every single part in Band of Brothers and was blown away by him in Inglorious Basterds. This may have been the first time I felt attracted to him, though. ( I know, I know…he was young Magneto! As phenomenal of a job as he did in X-Men: First Class, I’m afraid his sexual appeal was overshadowed by my intense burning for James McAvoy.) The man is mesmerizing to watch and has a voice that just commands your attention. I may have developed something of a crush now, honestly. Mia Wasikowska was delightful in Alice In Wonderland and The Kids Are All Right but pulled out all the stops here, delivering a performance both heartfelt and severe, impressively holding her own with the exceptionally talented Fassbender. Dame Judi Dench carries her supporting role with her usual ease and grace and the beautiful, haunting English countryside is practically a supporting character itself, as hypnotic as Mr. Fassbender.
I can hardly wait to read the novel on which this gem of a flick was based and become engrossed in the story all over again.