Only months after I read the 1847 Emily Brontë novel and saw the 1993 film adaptation, along comes yet another version of this enigmatic work. Director Andrea Arnold has taken a bold approach to her interpretation that, like all movie representations of books, has its strengths and weaknesses.
The boldest feature of the film is its casting of Heathcliff as black (Solomon Glave as the youngster and James Howson as the self-made man). Brontë describes Heathcliff as notably dark and Arnold - who co-wrote the script - has taken the character a significant step further in a manner which underlines Heathcliff's difference from the country folk. The accents are well done with young Cathy (Shannon Beer) perhaps better than older Catherine (Kaya Scodelario). The photography is wonderful with stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales (such a contrast to the more frequent very tight shots) and the sound is brilliant with a real sense of the wild natural setting.
Set against these undoubted virtues, it has to be said that the dialogue is so sparse (and sometimes muted) that, unless one has read the novel, it's often unclear what's going on and, even if you've read the novel, you sometimes yearn for the film to get a move on and, while some of the exchanges are taken straight from the novel, others are so crude that one cannot imagine Brontë ever penning such vulgarities. The leisurely pace means that, like all except the 1992 version, this one can only deal with the first half of Brontë's uncomfortable, indeed bleak, tale, so that one does not see the full, sustained vindictiveness of the anti-hero.
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