Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not-So-Gentle (Re)Viewer: Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (1992)

(Welcome to my first installment of "Not-So-Gentle Viewer," in which I review film adaptations of literature. I'm hoping this will morph into a semi-regular feature (a la "My Penpal"), and if any of you have film adaptations you particularly enjoy or want to talk about, let me know and we'll figure something out. Thanks! -- Lindsay-With-an-A)

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
is an adaptation that stays incredibly true to the original tale of the obsessive love between Heathcliff and Catherine. Anne Devlin's screenplay is almost word-for-word in many respects, straying very little from the tone and nature of the novel, and Ralph Fiennes (Heathcliff) and Janet McTear (Ellen Dean) handle the often-dramatic language with skill and feeling. Director Peter Kosminksy takes full advantage of the sweeping Moors of Yorkshire to add a drama and depth to the actors' performances that is missing from many of the interior scenes.

Perhaps the only weakness in the film comes from the possibly-miscast Binoche, who is not able to mask her Gallic roots throughout the movie, instead gallavanting about the English countryside with a slight French accent. In addition, while she bears up well beneath the emotionally heavy scenes, she does not quite pull off the carefree, spirited nature of Catherine in the lighter scenes, coming off as slightly ditzy rather than wild.

Fienne's performance, however, more than makes up for Binoche's inadequacies, and it worth watching the movie to see his performance alone. I would rate this film a B+.

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