Monday, February 1, 2010

Wuthering Heights (2009)

Year: 2009
Rated: NR
Run Time: 3 hours

First Viewing - January, 2009 on PBS.

Adaptation Accuracy/Dialogue - Usually, in Wuthering Heights adaptations, the movie begins one of two ways. 1. Lockwood shows up and the story unfolds after Cathy haunting him at the window, such as in the '39, '78, '92, and '98 versions. Or 2. The story just starts out of no where like in the '67 and '70 versions. But WH '09 is kind of a mindfuck. I warn you now, if you have never seen a version of this book before, avoid this one until you are well aware of the story.

It begins with Heathcliff (apparently near the end of the story) flipping out because Cathy is calling for him. Then it to the second half where Edgar is escorting Linton to Wuthering Heights. Catherine does her usual secret letter writing thing and then she and Nelly are trapped in the house. To pass the time, Nelly fills Catherine in on the story of her parents and their relations to Heathcliff.

As soon as Cathy dies, we resume the first story with Catherine, Hareton, and Linton. It's odd. I get why they did it because, generally, the second generation is considered to be boring in comparison to the first. But, to real fans like myself, it's unsettling.

Along with the weirdass retcon order of events, there are several character and dialogue changes FOR NO GODDAMN REASON!!! Take for example, the iconic "I am Heathcliff" scene. Half of the dialogue is spoken directly to Heathcliff. The other half to Nelly, but Heathcliff is already gone by the time she says it would degrade her to marry him...if she even says it...I'm not sure if she does.

Also, Cathy and Heathcliff have sex...which I HATE!!! The said mutual deflowerization takes place after Cathy returns from her stay at the Grange but before she agrees to marry Edgar. Historically, this just doesn't make sense. Cathy, especially on her high horse about her reputation, should no better to have sex with Heathcliff. Plus, it kind of cheapens their relationship, if you ask me. And then poor Edgar, who assumes she's a virgin, offers to sleep in another room on their wedding night, because Cathy's "too tired." (Although after Heathcliff returns the next day, he makes sure to bone her good).

There are so many changes in this version that it's almost as inaccurate as the 1939 version. However, it's definitely more enjoyable to my 21st century sensibilities. However, with it being three hours longs, it should cling to it's original source material other than write a whole new story.

Heathcliff - (Tom Hardy, age 32) I really like this Heathcliff. He brings some much needed humor to the character. Mostly, this is done through sarcasm rather than slapstick jokes. I think he's very good in all three Heathcliff eras, which has so far been a rarity. Kind of like Anna Calder-Marshall's 1970's Cathy, Hardy makes some weird character choices, but they are mostly ignorable.

Cathy Earnshaw - (Charlotte Riley, age 28) She's feisty, I'll say, and lacks maturity, so I guess I like her fine. She's not my favorite, nor my least. Altogether she is passable. I imagine she acted Cathy the way the director wanted.

Edgar Linton -(Andrew Lincoln, age 36) This is probably the most handsome Edgar. He is, actually, supposed to be better looking than Heathcliff. (That's one of Cathy's reasons for loving him, after all.) He is stronger than other Edgars, and isn't as pussy whipped. He threatens to throw Cathy out of the house if she doesn't give up Heathcliff...until she admits she pregnant.

Isabella Linton - (Rosalind Halstead, age 27) She's too pretty, and too strong. I always imagine Isabella shier, and in this version she's much to brazen. Also too old, but otherwise okay. She actively pursues Heathcliff instead sitting in her parlor shooting him come-ravish-me looks. One of the saddest scenes in the movie is when Heathcliff is consummating their marriage. She tries to kiss him...and then he tells her to not look at him. Ouch. To add insult to injury, this Isabella tries to win her brother's sympathy by telling of her pregnancy...but he still disowns her.

Hindley Earnshaw -(Burn Gorman, age 35) Hmmm. It seems like they were trying to do something different here, but just couldn't quite manage. I supposed I had more sympathy for Hindley than usual, but not quite.

Frances Earnshaw - (Sia Berkeley, age 24) This Frances is really, really perky. Too perky. Irritatingly perky. But she loves

Nelly Dean - (Sarah Lancashire, age 45) Do you see this picture to the left? Of course you do. Do you see the dull, lifeless expression on the actress's face? Yes...well...imagine that through the WHOLE FUCKING MOVIE!! This is by far, the worst Nelly ever. Not only is she old, she has no personality. She says every line with the same inflection. She is a plot device, not a character. She sucks!

Hareton Earnshaw - (Andrew Hawley, age 24) All right, I love this Hareton. He's very cute...too cute. I like cute faces vs. handsome faces, so it pains me to admit that Hareton should be handsome instead of cute. Anyway, he gets the character and I always cry at the end when Hareton discovers Heathcliff's dead body. I don't know if I should claim him as my favorite with having so much of my admiration coming from his appearance.

Catherine Earnshaw - (Rebecca Night, age 24) My least favorite by default. She, like this Nelly, also recites her lines in all the same tones. She's a young actress which helps, but she's a bit too uppity...and she lacks chemistry with Hareton.

Linton Heathcliff - (Tom Payne, age 27) I like this Linton. Yeah, he's a whiny little wretch, but that's how he should be.

Joseph -(Des McAleer)He has some humor so that's good.

Costumes/Character Appearances - Remember how in WH '39, they used costumes from the 1840's and how it didn't make any sense? Well in this version, they decide to put the first generation in Regency wear, (because everyone loooooooovvvvvvvvvvves Jane Austen right?) And the second generation gets something resembling the late 1820's. Ugh...whatever.

I like Edgar's handsomeness, but he's too dark as is Isabella. Hindley way too old. Hareton, too cute. And why the fuck is Catherine brunette? Stick on a blonde wig!

Sets/Filming Locations - Wuthering Heights, as a house, is just too damn big. The mansion in the 1992 version is also gothic, but smaller. This house is just too impending.

Music - There are some weird Indian flutes and then guitar music that belongs in a Starbucks, but it has some enjoyable motifs.

Overall Likes -Dual generations; Addressing if Heathcliff is Earnshaw's bastard; Heathcliff's humor; Heathcliff coming back on Cathy's wedding day; Isabella's journey; "Don't look at me."; "You poor wretch, your pride cannot blind God"; Catherine saying no one will love Heathcliff; Hareton and Heathcliff discussing love; Hareton crying over Heathcliff's body; Heathcliff and Cathy's ghosts staying at the Heights.

Overall Dislikes - Wrong costumes; sucky Nelly; Sex; Disjointed dialogue; Perky Frances; Old, crotchety Hindley; Cathy wandering the moors in her nightgown (didn't happen!); No dialogue during Cathy's death; Heathcliff's suicide.

Final Thoughts - For the most recent version of Wuthering Heights, I had a lot of expectations. Honestly, I enjoy movies from the 90's to the present most, so a modern treatment is the best for me. Overall, I was disappointed with many of the changes to the plot and some huge character discrepancies.

I do like this version. It has some tremendous faults but also some very memorable scenes that I'm glad this version dared to show. I feel that Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley have good chemistry. The bulk of the story focuses on them, of course. The story knows it is epic and classic and decides to "print the legend" rather than what the original text says. The scene where Cathy wanders around in her nightgown in non existent in the book, but people assume it's there due to pop culture legend.

I probably would be more disappointed if it weren't for yet another version of Wuthering Heights being in production. It should be released sometime this year. Hopefully, they don't Twilight it out too much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't know why everyone's down on this version, it features dialog directly from the book, a gothic tone, fairly young actors, very good actors, a full character arc for Isabella, and some authentic accents. What's not to like? Some reshuffling of events?