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Posts Tagged ‘Wuthering Heights 2009’

Recommended: ☆☆☆☆

Running time: 142 min (2 episodes)  Genre: Gothic FilmThis is a personal favorite and will be the one I will watch again and again, over a period of time. This version is something very different from the others; it refuses to be a slave to your Penguin Classic, taking huge liberties with the novel bringing literal events to where once these events were vaguely implied at best, though I didn’t think this was particularly problematic while the innate nature of the novel is still intact. I won’t be pointing out every changes here, I am not some possessive Bronte nerd. Lets put it this way, this is not your grandma’s Wuthering Heights!

This movie keeps your full attention. It begins on a dark, bleak night with throbbing rhythm of guitar music, the camera swung low at ground level creeping along a dirt path, crawling into the house like an animal and up the stairs. Old Heathcliff is laying in Catherine’s bed, half-dreaming, with her ghost haunting him at the window. Then it  jumps to the moment when Linton is delivered by the dying Edgar Linton to Heathcliff at the Heights. While the beginning was done out of sequence, I knew right off the bat what they were doing. But I rather they kept Lockwood as an outsider to witness and unfold the mystery of this remote household of angry, unhappy people. Suffice, the state of this household is enough to grab hold of you and make you want to know more. How on earth can these people be so wretched? Without Lockwood, Nelly Dean (Sarah Lancashire) plays a very minimal role here. This is not a bad thing since she kinda sucks!

The bulk of this movie focuses on Heathcliff and Catherine, played by Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley. This pair has great chemistry with some authentic accents. Much of the success of this film is spectacularly with Tom Hardy as Heathcliff. Tom portrays Heathcliff in a way that no other actor has been able to capture. He manages to be dangerous, menacing, vulnerable, passionate, and intelligent, making the part very much his own (he’s gorgeous to boot.)  Tom’s interpretation is spot on and is exactly what I like to see. He plays his tranformation from stable boy-weathy gentlemen-madman with ease. Charlotte Riley is from northern England and has a Yorkshire accent. I do like her portayal of a natural tomboyish Catherine, though no actress has completely nailed this role for me. And call me picky if you must, I think she looks too plain for the part. She conveys little emotions and the iconic “I am Heathcliff” scene was a let down (I prefer Juliet Binoche in this scene better.) 

It’s too bad they remove much of the violence from the book to make the two main characters more likeable. In this day and age who wouldn’t be upset to see Heathcliff hangs a pet dog or beats his wife and kid? What makes us more sympathetic towards Heathcliff is how they show Hindley, the rotten brother, destroyed himself and the people around him. He is a major douchebag in this film and was brilliantly played by Burn Gorman. There is an actual shirt off, hit-with-the-lash floggy scene. I think the “love scene” with Heathcliff and Isabella (Rosalind Halstead) is incredibly well done. He’s so gentle with her when they made love for the first time, then when she tries to kiss him but he coldly tells her, “Don’t look at me.” Whoa! It is so obvious that he is making love to Cathy in his mind!

The music in this version is absolutely beautiful and is very unique, with mostly guitars, drums, and flutes. The final scene when the haunted Heathcliff is walking with a peaceful countenance is very touching and bittersweet–one of my favorite scenes. 

The rest of the cast didn’t excite me and I didn’t particularly care for. The setting and asthetics of this film isn’t my favorite, which is probably a budget issue. The dresses are plain looking and seems all wrong! Why is first generation wearing empire style dresses while the second generation wearing 1770’s gowns? We all know Catherine is already dead before 1801 when Lockwood arrives but her tomb says 1805-1830! Why change this? The Heights in this version looks fine, with its deep narrow windows, stone walls, and ornate carvings, but the Grange is not what I’d imagined. The Grange is described in the text as:

“…beautiful– a splendid place, carpeted in crimson, with crimson chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, a shower of glass-drops hanging in silver chains in the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers.” 

I think the Grange in this version is too pale and airy or stale looking, though contrasting The Heights greatly. Overall, this is a fabulous movie! I’ve seen it many, many, many times already! 🙂

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