Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I read it several years ago, and while I Capture the Castle is my go to comfort read, I have never felt such a strong connection to a literary character as I have felt towards Jane.
The Bronte sisters always made me a little skeptical, my only experience with them was Emily's Wuthering Heights which I found melodramatic. In spite of everyone telling me I would love Jane Eyre, I was hesitant. Then I saw this film a fews years back. It inspired me to read the novel and spurred me toward one of my most profound literary relationships.
That being said, I thought I would go back and watch it again now that I have read and fallen in love with the novel to see if it still lived up to expectations. For me, it did. Though of course a few details are altered slightly, various parts of the plot are lengthened or shortened, etc. it creates a very clear picture of why Jane is so lovable and why her story is so important. It also creates an environment that makes some of Charlotte Bronte's slightly peculiar "other worldly" elements make sense.
Ruth Wilson is wonderful as Jane, not beautiful, but passionate and driven by and inner strength and sense of morality. Toby Stephens plays a beastly, but lovable Rochester, and I'm sure I speak for most of woman-kind when I say I'd be his governess any day. The two have a great chemistry and communicate so much to the camera with their facial expression, they barely need speak. However, when they do, it is a screenplay by Sandy Welch who also leant her pen to the highly watchable North and South from 2004. She pulls very well from within Bronte's novel, but of course some of Jane's narrations and introspective thoughts are sadly missed, but Wilson's acting and Susanna White's direction helps make up for it. The supporting cast was strong, Tara Fitgerald was very abomidable as Mrs. Reed and Georgie Henley was very well cast as the young Jane Eyre.
If you're a Jane skeptic or a Jane lover, you will enjoy this adaptation.