Yesterday, I finally got around to watching the latest film from both Lifetime and the Asylum, Wuthering High School!
Why Was I Watching It?
I was late in watching Wuthering High School. Saturday afternoon, I spent five hours in the Emergency Room, all so I could find out that I have bronchitis. By the time I finally got home, I was so tired that I slept through the Lifetime premiere of Wuthering High School. Fortunately, I did DVR it and yesterday, I finally found the time to watch it.
As to why I was watching it — hey, it’s a modern version of Wuthering Heights that’s set in a high school! And it was produced by the Asylum!
Wuthering Heights, high school, and The Asylum, three of my favorite things.
Seriously, how could I not watch it?
What Was It About?
Wuthering High School is the latest version of Emily Bronte’s classic novel, Wuthering Heights. After his family is deported, Heath (Andrew Jacobs) is adopted by wealthy Mr. Earnshaw (James Caan). Soon, Earnshaw is viewing Heath as being more of a son to him than his biological child, the drug-addicted Lee (Sean Flynn). Meanwhile, Heath has fallen in love with Earnshaw’s daughter, Cathy (Paloma Kwiatkowski). Cathy is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her mother and soon, she and Heath are skipping school, tearing up school books in slow motion, and getting sentenced to community service. However, when Cathy rejoins the school’s popular clique of mean girls, she starts to grow distant from Heath. While Heath plots his revenge, Cathy is pursued by the well-meaning but ineffectual Eddie Linton (Matthew Boehm).
At its heart, Wuthering High School was definitely a “look at the pretty clothes and look at the pretty houses” type of film. And that’s okay because, ultimately, the clothes and the houses were all very pretty and they were all filmed in very loving detail by director Anthony DiBlasi. At it’s best, Wuthering High School is a pure celebration of melodramatic style.
Modernizing a classic, 19th century novel is always a risky proposition. Setting it in a high school is equally dangerous as well. But I actually liked a few of the ways that Bronte’s story was updated. For instance, I thought it was brilliant to turn the novel’s gambling addicted Hindley Earnshaw into the film’s drug-addicted Lee Earnshaw. As well, transforming gypsy Heathcliff into Heath, the son of a deported illegal immigrant, worked far better than I expected that it would.
Among the supporting cast, Matthew Boehm and Francesca Eastwood were both well-cast. Eastwood, especially, seemed to be having a lot of fun delivering her Mean Girls-style dialogue. (“That’s not the first time you’ve been wet,” she says after pouring a drink on Cathy.) And James Caan brought a lot of gravitas to his role.
And, finally, Paloma Kwiatkowski was well-cast as the angry and outspoken Cathy. Many scenes that should not have worked did work because of Kwiatkowski’s sincere and empathetic performance.
What Did Not Work?
So, with all of those good points that I mentioned above, why wasn’t Wuthering High School as much fun as it should have been? Ultimately, I think the film’s pacing was just a little bit off. Certain scenes moved just a bit too slowly while other scenes were finished too quickly and, as a result, the entire film had an oddly rushed feel to it.
As well, I had some issues with the film’s ending. Obviously, this is going to be a SPOILER so, if you want to be surprised, don’t read any further. *SPOILER BEGINS* Towards the end of Wuthering High School, Cathy chooses to walk out into the ocean and drowns herself while Heath watches. We are then left with a montage of everyone mourning, Heath digging up her grave and curling up next to her in a coffin, and Cathy — speaking to us from beyond the grave — saying that she’s now finally been reunited with her mother. And … seriously? Obviously, Cathy had to die in order to remain true to the spirit of Wuthering Heights but did she have to commit suicide and, even more importantly, did the film have to suggest that she was better off having done so? *SPOILER ENDS*
Finally, of the many actors to have played Heathcliff over the years, Andrew Jacobs was not exactly the most convincing. He came across as being more petulant than passionate.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
Oh, I totally related to Cathy. I always do.
Avoid the ocean at all costs.