7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Wuthering Heights [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have never seen a period piece that I did not like. I now have. This film was surprisingly bad. In fact, on top of being disappointed, I was shocked by how bad it was. It is hard to believe that such a great, gothic story of star cross lovers, Cathy and Heathcliff, and their doomed families, the Earnshaws and the Lintons, has come to this, a travesty of a film. It conveys all of the abject misery contained in the novel, but none of its saving graces.
While this is a film that attempts to tell the entire story, chapter and verse, unlike its 1939 predecessor with Laurence Olivier, it still fails. The main problem is the miscasting of Juliette Binoche. While Ms. Binoche is, undoubtedly, lovely looking and a fine actress, her portrayal of an English girl, Cathy Earnshaw, falls flat. She is unable to fashion a credible English accent. Her underlying French accent is very distracting. Moreover, cast in the dual role of her daughter, Catherine Linton, with the same jarring accent, she is maddening. One never forgets that she is Juliette Binoche. She also, unfortunately, plays both roles in the same fashion. There is no attempt at any characterization or differentiation between the two other than a blowsy, blonde wig. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose. The roles were a definite overreach for Ms. Binoche.
Ralph Fiennes, on the other hand, is well suited to the role of Heathcliff, whom he plays with the intensity demanded of the character. Yet, he, an accomplished actor and worthy of the part, falls short of the mark. While there were glimmers of humanity and a certain poignancy to some of his babarous actions, it was not consistent enough to make the character come across as anything more than a cruelly depraved, miserable slob, rather than an anguished and passionate human being. In fact, his performance fails to make the viewer think anything but "good riddance" at the end. This, however, is the failure of the director, Peter Kosminsky. What was he thinking?
It was, however, enjoyable to see Jeremy Northam in the small role of Hindsley Earnshaw. Now, he would make an intriguing Heathcliff. If one has seen Northam in "Voices From A Locked Room", one would know what I mean. He has definitely got what it takes.
If you do not love period pieces, deduct one start from my review. If you love period pieces, proceed at your own risk.