Perhaps the easiest way of reviewing the most recent film adaptation of "Jane Eyre" is saying that audiences that would not expect to find it entertaining and compelling but are adventurous to try may be surprised by what they find. Mia Wasikowska, whose career seems to be taking off rapidly, plays the title character, bringing to Jane the perfect mix of maturity and youthful innocence. For those unfamiliar with the story, Jane is brought up in a mildly wealthy but heavily abusive environment and, upon acquiring her independence, becomes the governess at the estate of Mr. Edward Rochester, with whom she becomes close. To Jane's disappointment, Rochester seems to be drifting towards marriage with his social equal Blanche Ingram, but soon after he shocks Jane by proposing to her instead. Soon, though, matters become extremely strange in the Rochester house, and Jane's life is eventually turned upside down.
Possibly the cleverest thing about the script for this "Jane Eyre", written by Moira Buffini (from Charlotte Bronte's novel) is its decision to open the film with a panting, frantic Jane fleeing desperately from an unknown entity. This immediate burst of action and mystery engages viewers previously ready to sit through what they thought was just another romantic drama. While "Jane Eyre" does, of course, become a romantic drama, it takes its time in getting there, and doesn't insist on defining itself by its genre. Instead, the film tells an honest tale of the (rather unusual, let's admit) life of a girl in Victorian England that just happens to contain elements characteristic of the romance drama. The distinction between these two routes is subtle, but in "Jane Eyre", it makes all the difference.