**1/2 (out of four)
Jane (Mia Wasikowska of “Alice in Wonderland”) has led a traumatic life of constantly being ostracized and deprived a chance at happiness. She strikes up an interesting relationship with the dignified Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender), who’s not necessarily turned off by Jane’s plainness and poverty.
The buzz: Oh, how I do delight in another refined rendition of classic literature. Not really. Director Cary Fukunaga previously helmed the promising “Sin Nombre,” so maybe in adapting Charlotte Bronte’s novel he can tap into what’s so wonderful about this 164-year-old tale of isolation and class-conscious love. Which, considering how many old novels have been re-envisioned lately, we’re surprised doesn’t now include zombies.
The verdict: Multiple men demonstrate extreme, sudden affection for Jane, who’s strong-willed but otherwise not that great of a catch. (This, apparently, is what happens when there are only two women in a village and one is Judi Dench, playing a housekeeper.) So the love story never clicks, despite strong work from Wasikowska and Fassbender. When Jane and Edward engage in a bit of conversational gymnastics by the crackling fire, two rising stars breathe tremendous life into the interplay between a man who underestimates the woman in front of him and the woman who won’t let him forget it.
Did you know? In the 19th Century, possessing 20,000 pounds made you infinitely wealthy. Those were the days—except for the whole having-to-brighten-the-house-at-night-via-candlelight thing.
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