This review relates to the 2009 two-part adaptation of Emily Bronte’s novel, which starred Tom Hardy as Heathcliff, and Charlotte Riley as Cathy. (Minor spoilers for the storyline may be contained herein.)
It’s taken me a long time to see this, I admit partly because of some of the negative reviews it received when it first aired. However, I wish I had watched it earlier, because I really enjoyed it very much. The story is of course very well known, but briefly, it concerns the love between Heathcliff and his step-sister Cathy – a love which was all-consuming, very intense, and affected not just the two characters, but all around them as well, leading to jealousy, revenge and tragedy.
Tom Hardy was excellent as Heathcliff – it was easy to see how someone could fall in love with him as a young man, before loss and ill-treatment by other members of the family caused him to turn bitter and angry. He was charming and likeable, but he was also entirely believable as an older Heathcliff, determined to make Cathy’s family suffer for the misery they had visited upon him.
Charlotte Riley was lovely as Cathy – a beautiful young girl with a promising future, but who seemed destined for one path in life despite wanting to choose another. The chemistry between the two main characters was easy to see (and it’s no surprise to learn that after meeting on this production, they became a couple in real life).
Support was provided by Sarah Lancashire, who was excellent as Nelly, Cathy’s maid (and subsequently the maid to Cathy’s daughter Catherine). Lancashire is a really amazing actress, who always brings her roles to life, and she made a big impact in this show. Additionally, Andrew Lincoln plays Edgar, who becomes Cathy’s husband, but never the true love of her life. He is an actor who I sometimes find quite wooden, but he was very good here. Burn Gorman played Hindley, the brother of Cathy who always resented Heathcliff’s intrusion in their lives, and he was superb. He totally encapsulated the cruel and spiteful nature of the character, and made me dislike him intensely.
The whole production is very atmospheric – which I think is very important in any telling of this tale – and the Yorkshire moors where the story is set is portrayed beautifully. There is plenty of emotion – love, happiness, anger, shock, grief – and it all makes for a very moving and enjoyable production. And it made me cry!
If you’re a fan of the book (or even if you’re not), and haven’t seen this yet, I highly recommend that you watch it.
Year of release: 2009
Director: Coky Giedroyc
Writers: Emily Bronte (book), Peter Bowker
Main cast: Ton Hardy, Charlotte Riley, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Lancashire, Burn Gorman