4.5 out of 10
Release Date: 11th November 2011
Director: Andrea Arnold (American Honey / Fish Tank / Wasp (short) / Red Road )
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Nichola Burley, Paul Hilton, Simone Jackson, Lee Shaw, Steve Evets, James Northcote, Amy Wren, Oliver Milburn with Shannon Beer and Solomon Glave
Writer: Emily Bronte / Andrea Arnold & Olivia Hetreed
Trailer: WUTHERING HEIGHTS
Kate Bush VID
**SPOILERS – I’m assuming you’ve read Wuthering Heights**
Director Andrea Arnold‘s revisionist take on Wuthering Heights is hard work. It cannot be accused of being inauthentic. The sets, locations and soundtrack are all pure perfection. The performances from the quartet of largely first timers are brilliantly wrought as well. So what’s up? Why doesn’t this version grip and tie you in knots like the book does?
I think the central problem is the lack of dialogue. Beyond a few meaning stares and a belated declaration that all is lost we are in the dark and kept at arms length from the emotional core. Wuthering Heights is obviously one of the most famous stories ever when it comes to unfulfilled love. Perhaps outside of Romeo & Juliet this is the biggest love tragedy ever. Whilst this may still be the quintessential version of the book, perhaps its the actual storyline I don’t get along with. This version is a huge improvement on the Ralph Fiennes and Juliet Binoche version from 1992 that had Sinead O’Connor wandering aroud as the ghost of Emily Bronte (??) That version was a hurried express through the births, deaths and marriages and had very little traction in the memory. Andrea Arnold‘s new version throws in some new ideas, namely a huge one in that our Heathcliff (SOLOMON GLAVE & JAMES HOWSON) is a Black stowaway that Mr Earnshaw (PAUL HILTON) finds begging on the streets of Liverpool. Brought up as an equal to Earnshaw’s exisiting children Cathy (KAYA SCODELARIO & SHANNON BEER) and Hindley (LEE SHAW) he falls in love with Cathy. Brought low by the racist Hindley after the death of his benefactor he is made to sleep in the barn with the farm animals and referred to as ‘n*gg*r’ throughout. This revision fits the story completely but its still a strange twist for traditionalists. At the halfway mark the young actors are replaced by older counterparts. This also bucks the narrative because it comes along too late in the movie giving Cathy far too few scenes to engage as a grown up before her untimely departure to the afterlife. It’s a shame that the film seems to drag, the lack of dialogue or plot for long stretches got very old very soon and I’m a very patient viewer. The dialogue is also spiced up with some choice swearing, sex and possible necrophilia. A modernist take then…. It’s at it’s best in the first half with the younger actors. Smaller roles like that of Isabelle (NICHOLA BURLEY – PAYBACK SEASON) barely monitor. One gets the impression that there is a heap of footage left on the cutting room floor, Terence Malick-style. Unlike Malick though this was just tedious and seemed very very long.
4.5 out 10 – This Wuthering Heights may be authentic and progressive but it has no beating heart. It would appear that Andrea Arnold is better in housing blocks than farm houses.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Kaya Scodelario: Maze Runner 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Maze Runner 2, Tiger House, Maze Runner, Skins (TV), Now Is Good, Twenty8K, Shank, Moon
- Nichola Burley: Catch Me Daddy, Svengali, For Those In Peril, Twenty8K, Payback Season, Kicks, Soulboy, Streetdance, Donkey Punch
- Paul Hilton: London Road
- Amy Wren: Silk (TV), Uwantme2killhim?
- Steve Evets: North V South, Rev (TV), The Selfish Giant, Spike Island, The Facility, Anna Karenina (2012), Brighton Rock (2011), A Boy Called Dad, Looking For Eric, Summer
- Oliver Milburn: Ginger and Rosa, The Kid (2010), Green Wing (TV), Driving Lessons, The Descent, Me Without You, The Browning Version (1994), Loaded