Wuthering Heights (2003)
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005
Quarter of century after MTV was founded, there is a growing consensus about that institution being responsible for the decline of rock music. Film critics who experienced two decades of MTV-educated film directors share the same sentiments. Now it seems that the destructive appetites of MTV aren’t limited to the music or film. Other aspects of culture, including classic literature, seem ripe for ruin. At least this is the impression you might get from WUTHERING HEIGHTS, 2003 film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s novel, directed by Suri Krishnamma.
The novel was set in 19th Century England but MTV producers decided to make their adaptation more “accessible” to their targeted audience, so the setting was changed into the only one average MTV consumer might envision – present-day California. So the Yorkshire estate becomes lighthouse where old Earnshaw (played by John Doe) lives with his children and adopts young street urchin who would grow up and become Heath (played by Mike Vogel). Heath and his foster sister Cathy (played by Erika Christensen) fall in love with each other, but their romance is doomed. Cathy ends up with kind-hearted rich neighbour Edward (played by Christopher Masterson) while Heath uses all his frustration to become successful rock star.
What looked like a good idea in ROMEO+JULIET – transporting classic literature into modern setting – turns into monstrosity in WUTHERING HEIGHTS. The characters and plots of Emily Brontë’s novel were not only richer and more complex than in Shakespeare’s dramas, but also more connected to the time and place where they were created. Some situations and events that make sense in 19th Century rural England look ridiculously anachronistic in modern California. However, there is little opportunity to poke fun at this, because Max Enscoe’s and Annie de Young’s script is shallow and boring. Suri Krishnamma’s direction doesn’t help, because too much time is spent on California scenery and actors whose looks are supposed to compensate for the apparent lack of acting talent. To make things worse, since this is MTV movie, a large section of the film is dedicated what MTV tries to sell as music, making WUTHERING HEIGHTS into even less bearable experience to any viewer with some taste. Erika Christensen with her un-Hollywood looks is the only truly human element of the film, but her efforts aren’t enough for WUTHERING HEIGHTS to sink into well-deserved oblivion.
RATING: 2/10 (-)