Wuthering Heights, 1992 film ***1/2

Wuthering Heights, directed by Peter Kosminsky.  Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff, Juliette Binoche as Cathy/Catherine, Jeremy Northam as Hindley, Robert Demeger as Joseph, Jason Riddington as Hareton, Simon Shepherd as Edgar, Janet McTeer as Ellen, Jonathan Firth as Linton and Sophie Ward as Isabella.  105 minutes.  1992.

I’m a Brontë nut, and ‘Wuthering Heights’ was my Gothic go-to book as a teenager. However when this film came out I was nineteen, it had several poor reviews, and I dodged it rather than going to have a look.

Therefore I didn’t see this film until about four years ago for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is not at all bad – Juliette Binoche is unquestionably French, but she does portray the sense of a Cathy who veers between being lost in the emotions of her strong connection to Heathcliff, as rough and as wild as he is, and her need to become a respectable woman of means, as Mrs Edgar Linton.

Ralph Fiennes might not be an obvious choice as Heathcliff, but he has the romanticism of a Gothic hero, and if there is a slight misstep in the casting of Sophie Ward as Isabella (not the right type of woman for the role), it is balanced by Janet McTeer’s Nellie Dean, Jeremy Northam’s pathetic Hindley, and Simon Shepherd’s snooty Edgar. Kudos too for Jonathan Firth (brother of Colin) for his portrayal of the sickly Linton Heathcliff, child of a destructive and loveless union.

You get a sense of the Linton parents, too, in the persons of Simon Ward (father of Sophie, so perhaps a bit of stunt casting) and Jennifer Daniel. They are refined enough to see beyond Cathy’s dirty face to her family’s reputation and breeding, but too inward looking to accept the bond she has with her friend.

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

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