Posts Tagged ‘jason riddington’

Ralph Fiennes is Heathcliff in this adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and Juliette Binoche is Cathy.  The story is well known, but in essence, Heathcliff is an orphan rescued by Cathy’s father, and they grow up together and fall in love.  However, Heathcliff is treated like a servant by Cathy’s brother, and Cathy ends up marrying Edgar Linton, a decent man, who she unfortunately does not live.  Heathcliff is both furious and devastated, and wreaks a revenge that will last well into the next generation.

The problem with Wuthering Heights, for me anyway, is that Cathy and Heathcliff are basically horrible, selfish people. He runs off for two years without a word to Cathy, and then gets a huff on when she marries someone else.  She cuckolds the man she marries, and is incredibly disrespectful to him, especially when Heathcliff takes it upon himself to return, and declare it all her fault.  He gets married himself, but treats his wife terribly, beating her up, amongst other things.  Obviously, that is essentially the way the characters are written in Bronte’s novel (sorry, but I don’t buy into all that tragic, undying love story – they both just wanted what they couldn’t have and didn’t care two hoots about who they hurt in their selfishness), and there is only so much that an adaptation can do to make the characters sympathetic.  That all said, there have been enjoyable adaptations of this book, but this was not one of them.

Ralph Fiennes is a fine actor, and does a reasonably good job as Heathcliff.  He is quite menacing, and pretty hateful.  Juliette Binoche however, seems wildly miscast as Cathy.  Her French accent can often be heard, and while she does have a lovely voice, she is very unconvincing as the Yorkshire born-and-bred Cathy.  Also, the point at which Heathcliff strops off and Cathy decides to ruin Edgar’s life (sorry, can you tell that these characters annoy me?) by marrying him, comes far too early in the film, so this great love that supposedly exists between Cathy and Heathcliff does not really seem to be all that deep, or great (or lovely).  Also, there is an annoying, but thankfully only occasional voiceover which narrates part of the story (in particular the parts where there is a jump in the timeline), which is supposed to be that of Emily Bronte.  Bronte herself actually appears as a character, played by Sinead O’Connor, bookending the film, by appearing at the beginning and ending of it.  Her narration at the beginning actually serves to remind the viewer that this is a fictional story.

On the positive side, Simon Shepherd did a great job as Edgar Linton, and Sophie Ward was very good in her minor role as Isabella.  However, the standout performance for me was Ellen, Cathy’s maid, played by Janet McTeer, who shone in every scene that she was in.

I think maybe there is a bit too much story to fit into a film of one hour and 45 minutes, and some of the storyline does seem a bit rushed.  Overall, I would say that this is not a terrible film, but it’s not brilliant.  Worth seeing for McTeer and Shepherd’s performance, but be prepared to want to throw things at the screen every time Heathcliff or Cathy bemoans their lot.

Year of release: 1992

Director: Peter Kosminsky

Producers: Simon Bosanquet, Mary Selway, Chris Thompson

Writers: Emily Bronte (novel), Anne Devlin

Main cast: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Janet McTeer, Sophie Ward, Simon Shepherd, Jeremy Northam, Jason Riddington

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This performance of the play which was adapted into the (wonderful) 1957 film starring Henry Fonda, features Martin Shaw in the role of Juror number 8, who must convince his fellow jurors that there is reasonable doubt in the case of a young man accused of murdering his father.  The rest of the cast of this production which I saw at the wonderful Birmingham Rep Theatre, includes Robert Vaughn as juror 9, Jeff Fahey as the bullying juror 3, Nick Moran as juror 7, who only wants to get the case finished with so that he can go to a baseball match, and Edward Franklin as juror 5.

I thought the play was wonderful, and judging by the enthusiastic response and standing ovation from the audience, so did everybody else.  Shaw was excellent as the only juror to initially believe that the defendant may not be guilty, and I also loved Robert Vaughn as the sensible and intelligent fellow juror who is the first to agree.  Jeff Fahey was ideally cast as juror number 3 – an unsympathetic character, who is projecting his own unhappiness at his failed relationship with his son, onto the young man sitting in the dock.

With a small cast of 13 (twelve jurors and a guard), all of whom were on stage the whole time, and with just one setting, the atmosphere was suitably claustrophobic, as tensions run high amongst the men who just can’t seem to reach a verdict with which they all agree.  The staging was very clever, with the table around which the jurors sit – for the most part, when they are not pacing the room or staring out of the window – slowly revolves, so that no character is ever really out of clear view of the audience.

The whole cast were wonderful, it did seem like a natural conversation rather than scripted lines.  It was completely absorbing and the audience seemed captivated throughout – I most certainly was!

Whether you have seen this play before, are a fan of the film, or just like excellent drama performed by a top-notch cast, this play is definitely worth seeing.  It will shortly be playing in London, and I highly recommend it.


Click here for my review of the 1957 film.

Click here for my review of the 1997 film.

Click here for my review of the 2015 production.


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