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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
In hindsight, it's easy to see that the message of Wuthering Heights is that, ideally, love shouldn't be limited by social status and circumstance -- that true love should prevail over societal constructs. But the story is also a cautionary tale about how obsessive love can become and how it can transform lovers kept apart into bitter and sickly shells of themselves.
Positive Role Models
Mr. Earnshaw adopts Heathcliff -- a homeless orphan boy -- when he had no reason to do so other than charity. Cathy sees beyond Heathcliff's status and into his heart. She loves him even though it isn't wise for them to be together. Still, despite their love for each other, Cathy and Heathcliff aren't the best role models: They're obsessed with each other, and, instead of communicating openly about their prospects of being together, they both make irrevocable mistakes that cost them their happiness.
Violence & Scariness
Heathcliff is beaten brutally on more than one occasion. He's once flogged so badly that it leaves bloody scars on his back. Catherine is attacked by a hound and can barely walk, forcing her to convalesce in a neighbor's estate. More than one character dies. A husband pushes his wife and locks her in a room. There's also the graphic killing of animals for food on the Earnshaw farm.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In one scene, a young Heathcliff sees a couple having sex in the field; some vague thrusting and moaning can be seen/heard. Heathcliff and Cathy don't consummate their relationship, but they do share several moments of intimacy and closeness. As young teens, they roll around on top of each other, and Cathy kisses Heathcliff's wounds. In the last portion of the film, couples kiss -- sometimes quite passionately. There's brief nonsexual male nudity as dead Mr. Earnshaw's body is washed.
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Several uses of the word "c--t." Other profanities include "f--k," "s--t," "arse," "whore," and more.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cathy's brother Hindley becomes a drunk after his wife's death. He's often seen with a drink in his hand.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that director Andrea Arnold's adaptation of Wuthering Heights isn't a start-to-finish version of the novel but rather a focused account of the first half of the tragic love story. There's a great deal more language ("c--t," "f--k," "s--t," and more) in this unrated film than previous screen incarnations of Emily Bronte's classic. And while there are considerably fewer gothic elements in the movie than in the book, there's still a great deal of sexual chemistry between Cathy and Heathcliff, who go from horsing around and wrestling as kids to kissing passionately as adults (they also see another couple having sex in a field). A few characters die, and there are violent scenes of Heathcliff being flogged, farm animals being hunted and readied to eat, Cathy being attacked by a hound, and a wife being pushed around and locked in a room. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There's an ethereal, contemplative quality to the film, which focuses so much of its time on the innocent -- and then feverish -- adolescent connection between Cathy and Heathcliff. There's a gentleness and a beauty to the way the protagonists interact with their land -- even the mud that covers them after they've wrestled on the ground is complicit in their blooming love. Kaya Scodelario and James Howson are excellent as the slightly older but obviously still in love Cathy and Heathcliff. By cutting out the latter portion of the story, the movie doesn't take the more sinister turns but still alludes to the fact that Wuthering Heights shall always be haunted by the doomed lovers.
Arnold caused a minor stir when she decided to cast black actors as Heathcliff in her youth-focused adaptation of Emily Bronte's classic novel. But since the Heathcliff of canon is constantly referred to as "dark" and "Gypsy," there's no reason the actor couldn't be black instead of just a dark-haired white actor. The young Heathcliff and Cathy, Glave and Beer, are the film's real scene-stealers. Without much dialogue, their time spent walking and running and playing around the beautiful moors makes it very obvious how close the not-really-related teens become -- and why they would grow to be undeniably obsessed with each other. In one of the movie's most intimate scenes, Cathy gently, quietly kisses Heathcliff's many wounds from a flogging that her angry brother ordered.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.