The latest screen version of JANE EYRE, Charlotte Bronte‘s classic romantic novel, is a gorgeous, sweeping, passionate, visually striking film.

It may have seemed a strange choice of director but Cary Fukunaga, who brought us the very different crime drama Sin Nombre as his feature debut, was an inspired one for this new version of Charlotte Bronte’s romantic epic JANE EYRE.

Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Michael Fassbender as Rochester in Jane Eyre

Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender

JANE EYRE is one of the great love stories and it’s told afresh here with a drive and urgency that you’d hope to find in any modern thriller. And it’s that drive and urgency that I think Fukunaga has brought to the movie. Working with Adriano Goldman, his director of photography on Sin Nombre, they also create a visually striking film, from grey, windswept moors to interiors shot by candlelight. And Moira Buffini‘s sharp and, at times, very dryly witty script, allows you into a story about equality and freedom that’s as universal today as it would have been shocking at the time it was written.

He’s helped in no small part by two of cinemas brightest talents right now in Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, who deliver powerhouse performances as the two principles. Wasikowska is Jane, the seemingly timid governess who goes to work for the seemingly cold Mr. Rochester (Fassbender) and discovers the secret that made her employer into the man he is now. Their delicate but hugely emotional portrayals draw you in and leave you stirred and sometimes breathless. In smaller roles, the ever brilliant Jamie Bell as a smitten suitor to Jane and the incomparable Judi Dench as housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax, add further weight to the drama with their quietly understated performances.

The seemingly plain JANE EYRE at the heart of this version is a beautiful and accomplished creature who, like the movie itself, leaves many other literary adaptations in its wake. See this.