Emily Bronte's tragic tale of star-crossed lovers Cathy (Binoche) and Heathcliffe (Fiennes), wh
The third adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic tale of love and vengeance on the Yorkshire moors, this had the deck stacked against it from the start: there was the "controversial" casting of unknown stage-treader Ralph Fiennes and French actrice Juliette Binoche in the lead roles, while the 1939 version starring Sir Larry and Merle Oberon is enshrined in the public's conscience as a romantic evergreen.
Indeed, given this risky undertaking, it's tempting to call the final result an admirable failure, when damp squib comes closer to the mark. That said, when a cloaked Sinead O'Connor, as Emily Bronte, the film's narrator, first comes stalking across the moors accompanied by Ryiuchi Sakamoto's haunting score, you're ready to toss all jaded scepticism out the window and believe anything for almost two hours.
Initially Kosminsky's atmospheric evocation of windswept moors and bleak interiors is encouraging, but any lurking promise is snuffed out somewhere between O'Connor and Binoche's first Goldie Hawn-ish giggling fit as the teenage Cathy. The fatal flaw lies not in the two leads - Binoche is suitably headstrong and freespirited, while Fiennes' Heathcliff is all brooding torment - but in trying to cram the whole of a particularly complex novel into two hours. With no time to build up the fiery emotional bond between the duo, Heathcliff's second-half unleashing of ghastly revenge is all rather tedious and nasty, so that, rather than being empathetic, he comes across as a barking-mad pain in the rear.
A valiant attempt at compressing a novel as complex as Bronte's into under 2 hours, but 'valiant' shouldn't be mistaken for 'failed'.