Jane Eyre – BBC1

Mia Wasikowska is ideal as Charlotte Brontë's heroine in this sumptuous adaptation

Mia Wasikowska is ideal as Charlotte Brontë’s heroine in this sumptuous adaptation

The classic story of the shy orphaned governess who falls in love with her anguished employer has been filmed many times for the big and small screen, but here an Australian actress, a German-Irish leading man and an American director bring freshness and an outsider’s eye to the oft-told tale.

Wasikowska conveys Jane’s mix of vulnerability and strength, shyness and fierce will, and Michael Fassbender brings a virile, brooding charisma to the role of Rochester. There are solid supporting performances from Judi Dench (staunch housekeeper Mrs Fairfax), Sally Hawkins (Jane’s cruel aunt) and Jamie Bell (stuffy clergyman St John Rivers).

Director Cary Fukunaga sticks closely to Brontë’s original story, deftly using flashback to give the plot greater urgency and shooting largely with natural light to bring mid-19-century England to life in all its rain-soaked oppressiveness.

But it is Wasikowska’s intense, intelligent Jane that is the film’s triumph.