Friday, February 5, 2010

Wuthering Heights (2003)

Year: 2003
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

First Viewing - 2007 on Netflix.

Adaptation Accuracy/Dialogue - You thought I had done every version didn't you? Ha! Certainly, there are many, many, many more adaptations of Wuthering Heights that I have never seen and probably never will see...but I saved this one, the modernized updated version for my last full review. (I will shortly be going over all those versions I have not seen. Get excited!)

But right now, the task at hand is reviewing the 2003 MTV version of Wuthering Heights. Like I said, it's a modernized adaptation like O (the Josh Hartnett Othello) and 10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew as a teen comedy) so much of the book's dialogue is entirely missing. Actually, all of it is missing. I think the only line that is directly taken from the the book is "I am Heath" and even that is changed...obviously.

Because this version is so different from the others and I'm sure you're just dying to know how this classic of English literature could be transposed to our era, I will give a detailed plot synopsis as well as my usual analysis.

The movie begins with Cate (Cathy) narrating how her mother left her when she was young and that her father (referred to as Earnshaw by everyone, even his kids) raised her and her brother, Hendrix (Hindley) at "The Heights", a lighthouse on the coast of what I think is supposed to be Southern California. During a storm, Earnshaw is making repairs on their house and then goes out to get nails or something and finds Heath (Heathcliff...duh) and takes him home. Cate likes him, Hendrix hates him. Cate and Heath spend time frolicking on the beach, grow into teenagers and fall in love.

I should mention right now that this adaptation is kind of a musical. No, not a let's-start-singing-in-the-middle-of-our-conversation musical. Heath is an (apparently) extremely gifted musical genius. Hendrix has aspirations of being a musician, but is very bad...making his name quite ironic. Earnshaw gives Heath a makeshift recording studio where Heath spends his time honing his we get treated to many songs, most of them mediocre with the exception of one in my opinion. (It's made by MTV people, what do you expect?)

Hendrix is fed up with his father's favoritism and goes to a "punk rock" club where we get our first glimpse of Isabel (take a wild guess) who he seems to have some interest in and shows her by force kissing her. She rejects him and ends up screwing the lead singer of the bands in the parking lot. Hendrix is already a wild partier, so alcoholism is present from the beginning.

Soon after that, Heath's motorcycle breaks down near the Linton's home (not given a formal name in this version). Cate is curious and checks it out. There she meets Isabel and Edward (because Edgar is too much of an old man's name). Edward is immediately entranced with Cate and Isabel is hot for Heath. Heath is pissed that Cate would rather be in anyone's company but his and she agrees to leave, but not happily.

Eventually, Heath and Cate have sex, but she is disturbed by how possessive he is. Cate runs away to the Grange where she meets up with Edward playing his cello. Before the two can have a conversation, Heath arrives with the news that Earnshaw had a heart attack. He later dies and due to patrilineal leanings, Hendrix gets everything. (For a modern adaptation, WTF?) He threatens Heath into living in his music studio, which has been raped of its equipment. The two get into a fight, and to keep Heath from killing Hendrix, Cate hits him with a shovel and he runs off.

Cate drives off and gets in a car wreck, Edward finds her and brings her to his home. While there, Cate refuses to let anyone know where she is and she is nursed back to health by Edward's loving hands. He admits to be in love with her and she lets him kiss her. Meanwhile, Hendrix throws a party at the Heights when Heath returns. Isabel takes him to her house to see Cate in the comfortable, rich world of the Lintons. Heath leaves after Cate admits she doesn't want his love anymore.

Isabel picks Heath up and offers to let him live with her at her boarding school (wtf?). In her HUGE room, she buys him a bunch of music equipment and Heath's musical genius is blooming once again. Isabel finally seduces Heath at the same time Edward proposes to Cate. She accepts.

Isabel releases Heath's music onto the internet thinking if she makes him a star, that he will finally love her. He does become the hottest thing in music, but he is still very much in love with Cate. He takes the money earned and buys the Heights from the bank, after Hendrix lost it. Cate marries Edward but has a panic attack before leaving on the honeymoon when she sees Heath's CD.

Cate sees that Heath is at the Heights through Edward's telescope and goes to see him, resulting in them having sex. Edward discovers them the next morning. Eventually, Cate finds out she is pregnant and ends her affair with Heath, not wanting to complicate her child's life. She is ordered on bed rest and Edward flips when she is out of bed. He shakes her and threatens to kill her if she sees Heath again.

Cate goes into labor and travels down to her and Heath's cave (because that is so safe and plausible!) and summons him. He finds her, carries her to The Heights, and gives birth to her daughter. Before she dies, Cate tells Heath the baby is his. Heath then raises little Cate, while Cate's ghost stays around The Heights...forever.

Heath - (Mike Vogel, age 24) Possessiveness is not romantic. Not now, in this modern day, therefore, Heath seems like belongs in a lifetime movie sometimes. The character also overacts a bit too much and it gets to be distracting. I think his good looks let him get off as being a jerk too easily.

Cate Earnshaw - (Erika Christensen, age 21) Cate is definitely more sympathetic in this version. Heath is very posessive, and to our 21st century sensibilities, we understand why she would want to break free. A lot of her haughtiness and childishness is missing, so it doesn't really feel like Cathy. Plus, when she actually has a physical affair with Heath, that loses points.

Edward Linton - (Christopher Masterson, age 23) He's kind of a creep. He watches Cate through a telescope long before he ever meets her. But overall, he loves her and the little lapdog as always. However, at the end, when he shakes pregnant Cate, that is just unforgivable, making him the most villainous Edgar ever.

Isabel Linton - (Katherine Heigl, age 25) With Isabel, we have an entirely new character. She is rich, spoiled, bitchy, manipulative and a whore. At first, she just wants to bang Heath for the sake of it, but after living with him, her attraction turns to obsessive love and it consumes her. Her journey is the most fascinating. But then she disappears after informing Heath of Cate and Edward's marriage. What happened to her?

Hendrix Earnshaw - (Johnny Whitworth, age 28) He started out good. His actions were justified, but again, we have no Frances and his alcoholism is blamed on his lack of fatherly love. Like Isabel, Hendrix just kind of vanishes after Heath buys The Heights. Maybe he and Isabel finally hooked up.

Raquelle - (Aimee Osbourne, age 20) This is Isabel's friend who's around for some of the action. Honestly, she is not important at all. But she was on the poster, so someone apparently thought she was.

Costumes/Character Appearances - As a modern adaptation, the clothes actually don't wreak of 2003. Cate's are very bohemian, which I enjoy. Hendrix is punk. Isabel is slut. Edward is prep. And Heath wears jeans.

Interestingly, both Heath and Cate are blonde. Edward is too, while Isabel has streaked hair. Being modern, that doesn't really bother me. I get what they were doing with the whole beach thing.

Sets/Filming Locations - Well California is an interesting setting, surely. I think it was really filmed in Puerto Rico or something. But I think the storminess of the ocean worked well in place of the wily, windy moors. I love the idea of making Wuthering Heights a lighthouse, but the one used in the movie was too new and nice looking. It was supposed to be a piece of shit Earnshaw has to repair all the time. It looked too modern.

Music - So this whole thing was the brainchild of Jim Steinman, who is one of Meatloaf's producers and writes those songs with the really long titles like "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)." Some of his songs are used and some are original. Most of them are forgettable and superfluous. However, I love "I Will Crumble", the main theme used throughout the movie.

Overall Likes - Proper mood captured; Isabel's character change; Lighthouse; Hendrix not so one dimensional; "I Will Crumble"; Isabel begs Heath for sex; Edward becomes a dick; Cate's death; "Don't you want to know where I came from?"

Overall Dislikes - The music; Raquelle; Overdramatic in places; Long musical sequences; "Why isn't your heart beating as fast as mine?"; Pregnant Cate climbs down into the cave;

Final Thoughts - Obviously, it is not the best adaptation. Nor is it the best movie...or even the best MTV movie. Okay, maybe it is. I'm not sure what other MTV movies there are. It's mostly a guilty pleasure for me because I know how truly awful it is.

I like when classic literature is updated. It simply fun to see how they get over contextual issues. I don't think if Wuthering Heights was really set today that Earnshaw would leave everything to Hindley. It would probably be split evenly between the three of them. Now, maybe he would get the house...but not everything.

Anyway, I first ordered this movie on Netflix when I was trying to see all available adaptations. At first this one appalled me, and my friend Hannah was drawn in to the awfulness. But by the end, we were both crying. I don't know why, and I'm ashamed to admit it, but MTV's Wuthering Heights, is the only one to make me cry and it always gets the biggest emotional response out of me.


Anonymous said...

Nice review - it is a pretty bad adaptation, but I really enjoyed Katherine Heigl's performance (big fan of hers) and her character. She was excellent and played the role so well. You described it really well.

Andrew said...

I was actually surprised about this one. I think having Catherine and Heathcliff closer to the actual age that they're supposed to be helps out. The music was hilariously nu-metal in places, especially the song that gets Heath famous, "If It Ain't Broke (Break It);" I like to think that Meatloaf producer also likes using parentheticals for his songs titles as well. Some of the teen dialogue sounded like, well it sounded like this:

"Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo; so long ago when there was nothing but our love. No politics, no plotting, no war."