I have seen several adaptations of Bronte’s most famous novel in the past and have also read the novel some years ago. I missed this when it was on television – don’t think ITV publicised it highly enough – but managed to catch it on ITV player and whilst I wasn’t absolutely blown away by the adaptation I did find it a good attempt by ITV to emulate the costume dramas of the BBC – who really do it better!
I have to say that I was enchanted by the performance that was given by actress Charlotte Riley as the dark and wild Cathy – she was truly beautiful and her performance was not overstated – too often we find that Cathy is cruel and stuck up instead in this adaptation she played the role of young girl trying to move into womanhood whilst madly in love with a suitor who all around her consider unsuitable with great charm. At no point did she overact her part – she remained believeable as we watched Cathy struggle with her own jealousy as Heathcliff married her sister-in-law and then as she moves to ensure her true love knows the depth of her feeling for him.
Moving onto Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Heathcliff however is another matter – in the first episode I was thoroughly underwhelmed. He appeared manical and phsychotic – truly dark and wicked but strangely what was lacking was the romantic hero. He was almost too phsychotic for me to find anything that would have made Cathy want to pick him over Edgar Linton, who in this adaptation was charming and dashing and in a way the much safer bet so that even I was happy to see Cathy walk down the aisle with him at the end of episode 1. In Episode 2 there were some redeeming scenes, we saw a more civilised and guarded Heathcliff – the scenes on the moors with Isabella where he tells her that he could love her because she seems to see something loveable in him is really touching, as was the scene where he was holding Cathy at the height of her illness. Overall, for me, there was just something lacking in Hardy’s performance of this role – a bit too dark to allow the softness to shine through.
This is well worth watching for the stalwart performances from ITV favourites such as Sarah Lancashire – who is outstanding as Nelly – is it the best adaptation of Wuthering Heights – no but then I don’t think any have ever totally captured the right blend of strong but vulnerable lead characters.