I have to admit I'm confounded by the remark from the reviewer who based a poor review on the opinion that this film is "not family-friendly" or "not for children," as I'm mystified why anyone would think that "Wuthering Heights" (in any adaptation) was a story for children. There sometimes seems to be a general misperception that just because a novel was written in the 19th century and is considered a literary classic, that it's somehow appropriate for all ages.
Charlotte Riley comes very close to my idea of Cathy, at least physically. If she's not as "bratty" as she is in the novel, as other reviewers have pointed out, that's perhaps on the screenwriters, not on Ms. Riley, as there are some scenes in the novel in which kitty definitely shows her claws (most notably, flying into a temper and slapping Edgar while he's courting her, leading the reader to wonder why he wants to marry her). The fact that a few of these scenes have been omitted from the film does seem to result in a Cathy who is perhaps more sympathetic than she should be.
Tom Hardy doesn't disappoint as Heathcliff, and plays him very ably, I think, but while I wouldn't base a review on this, he just doesn't look like Heathcliff to me. It would be awesome to assemble a "Dream Team" of people from a variety of adaptations of "Wuthering Heights" -- my all-time favorite Heathcliff has always been Ralph Fiennes in the 1998 TNT TV adaptation, although I would have liked to have seen him paired with someone a little more feral than Juliette Binoche.
Andrew Lincoln's Edgar Linton was a pleasant surprise. Edgar is almost always portrayed as such an insufferable milquetoast, and this was the first Edgar I didn't spend the entire production wanting to slap.
Not only did I not mind the sex scenes, but I'll even go so far as to say I thought they were good choices. "Wuthering Heights" is a story with many undercurrents of carnality, even if these aren't expressly stated in the novel. I think people forget that in the era in which Bronte wrote the novel, sex was something that was absolutely *not* discussed in literature, or anywhere else for that matter. To a Victorian reader, the fact that Isabella is even pregnant with Heathcliff's child would have been shocking, even despite the fact that she's married to Heathcliff, because the reader knows that he not only doesn't love her, but he has also blatantly used her sexually to serve his own ends. In the novel, he's not just out for a rape or a casual fling -- he is deliberately ruining her to get back at her brother, and the societal implications of the destruction of a woman's virtue are perhaps lost in translation in today's mentality. The sex scenes are, in my opinion, relevant, and are not gratuitous ... besides one brief view of Mr. Lincoln's bum, there's nothing that would be considered over-the-top for a PG-13 rating. In fact, I thought that scene, while very brief, did a great job of conveying the character's frustration as he tries to assert himself in the only way he knows how, even though he clearly knows that he will only ever have the smallest and most disingenuous pieces of this woman's heart.
There are scenes in this film which are not in the novel, which is something I suppose would get in the way of a good review for a true purist of the book. As a lifelong fan of the book, I personally always wanted a glimpse of Cathy and Edgar's wedding, or of their wedding night, or lack thereof. Surely Bronte imagined these events -- the fact that they're not expressly included in the novel doesn't mean they couldn't reasonably appear in an intelligent adaptation of the novel.
I didn't miss Mr. Lockwood or indeed any of the scenes where he appears in the book. In the novel, he's entirely a plot device, a casual observer through whose eyes we see certain characters and events. There are plenty of other ways to do this in film, and while the idea of a "tenant" would have been familiar to Victorian readers, I don't think his presence would make as much sense in a modern adaptation. I did miss the omniscience of Nelly, however, as a narrator, and her role was greatly reduced in this treatment.
As many other reviewers have already noted, many adaptations omit entirely the "second generation" aspect of the story dealing with Catherine Jr., Linton and Hareton, and this version does attempt it. While it was a better treatment of this part of the novel than others that have attempted it (notably, the silliness of the "dual role" in the 1998 TNT version, in which Juliette Binoche donned a blonde wig to play Catherine Jr.), I've yet to see an adaptation that really conveyed this part of the story effectively. The reader never questions the continuance of the story in the novel, but this continues to seem to be an almost "unmakeable" part of the book.
The film is visually gorgeous -- I especially liked the opening credits flying over the moors -- and the art direction captures the haunting mood of the story. A particularly effective bonus was the dual view of what Heathcliff sees when he exhumes Cathy's body vs. what the audience sees.
I leave off a fifth star only because of the omission of some of the novel's most famous dialogue. When lines in a novel go so far as to become immortal in literature, filmmakers ought to make sure those lines are uttered, no matter how the story is structured or altered.