Charlotte Bronte's heroine has been played by some pretty drippy actresses over the years, but this British adaptation of the 1847 Gothic novel is elevated by a flinty and finely detailed performance from young Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland
, The Kids Are All Right
). Jane Eyre, the orphaned girl who grows into a formidably self-possessed young woman, is repeatedly described in the book as plain-looking, which movie producers usually do their best to ignore. Wasikowska is credibly ordinary-looking, and she's internalized the peculiar mix of willfulness and watchfulness, defiance and modesty, that allows Jane to survive as a lower-class woman without losing her soul. Screenwriter Moira Buffini sticks pretty closely to the novel, and director Cary Fukunaga conjures a drab tone that nicely sets off the characters' violent but rigidly controlled passions. With Michael Fassbender, Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, and Sally Hawkins.