Far more realistic and powerful depiction of what life for governess must have been than 1940. "All this and Heaven too" is this unexpectedly beautiful interpretation of literary classic and its surprising that it works so well on every level, because adaptations of famous novels are slippery business since most of us are very familiar with them and have our own ideas how they should be approached. One wrong step and everything can slide in overtly simplistic direction, luckily BBC Films are generally always at the top of their game when it comes to costume drama, so this "Jane Eyre" was fairly safe bet, even though advertisements might have harmed it as they promoted it almost as a horror when in fact it is a beautiful period drama with strong Gothic overtones.
The novel by Charlotte Brontë is a beauty apart in itself and it should be enjoyed as timeless masterpiece it is - modern readers might have problems with understanding what a joyless and uncertain lives one governess was destined to live all her life, floating from employment to employment in constant fear of poverty and scandal, but this 2011. version might be the closest to my idea of 1847. novel with highly atmospheric candle lights, sophisticated but never intrusive background music and of course, beautifully understated acting. Mia Wasikowska is quiet and mousy enough to be absolutely believable as girl whose pureness and innocence soften the heart of tortured Mr. Rochester, with only stoic posture and expressive eyes on her disposal she does admirable job and with time we come to see the beauty in her. Even though this kind of role now appears like cliché in every costume drama, we have to understand that "Jane Eyre" actually started the whole tradition of a brooding hero and Michael Fassbender is magnificent because he takes Mr. Rochester without any sense of campy exaggeration, he is dead serious and genuinely sincere. As a housekeeper, Judi Dench does magic with basically small, supporting role and the way she twists her hands or glances sideways while speaking bring the movie completely different dimension. Casting is absolutely perfect and the smallest details in roles by Sally Hawkins as evil cousin, Imogen Poots (snooty Blanche Ingram) and beautiful Italian actress Valentina Cervi are flawless. Some might complain that certain aspects of the novel were ignored but honestly, the real story starts with heroine's arrival in Thornfield Hall anyway, everything before that was just a prelude. I was sincerely touched with the movie, it really affected me even though I was very familiar with the story.