Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate tale of the intense and demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, allegedly a Gypsy foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr ... See full summary »
Paul Eryk Atlas,
Jackie works as a CCTV operator. Each day she watches over a small part of the world, protecting the people living their lives under her gaze. One day a man appears on her monitor, a man she thought she would never see again, a man she never wanted to see again. Now she has no choice, she is compelled to confront him.
Zoë is a single mother who lives with her four children in Dartford. She is poor and can't afford to buy food. One day her ex-boyfriend drives by and asks her to go on a date with him. ... See full summary »
Andrea Arnold's take on a well-known tale falls flat for a number of reasons. Her hand-held camera, non-linear montage, and bouts of frenzied physicality arguably complement her two tales of modern ennui and angst, Red Road and Fish Tank. However, they seem incongruous matched against a classic from the literary canon. The audience coming along expecting to see a period piece are getting a surprise, and unfortunately it is not a pleasant one. They were the ones walking out at the screening I went to. The writing was on the wall when their heart sank as the curtains whirred into place and settled on a 4:3 aspect ratio. That was a bizarre decision - these moors, this landscape, demand widescreen.
The decision to spend most of the film with the early years of Heathcliff and Cathy also seems ill-conceived, as the two youngsters frolic in the mud for an eternity without the story moving forward very much. They are earthy people of and from the land, the film screams, like the interminable procession of animals we see depicted. We get that in the first ten minutes - the rest of the time we are just going over established territory.
The return of the now successful Heathcliff in the latter half of the film means the grown up cast having the same effect as substitutes in a football game - imbibing the audience/spectators with a glimmer of hope. Alas, it is not to be, as the actor playing Heathcliff is wooden beyond belief, pipping the actor playing Edgar for the prize. The actresses around them can act, but it is a poor return on the ticket price. The film overtly attempts to appeal on visual grounds and as a result dialogue appears to have been an after-thought, as most lines are flat and predictable. The racial epithets are not shocking; they seem more a cynical ploy to garner publicity.
TV frame, incongruous mise-en-scene, poor casting and dodgy racial politics - any one of these could sink a film, but all four together is a very tough sell. The biggest sin, however, is to take Wuthering Heights and imbue it with absolutely no passion at all. The moors look suitably wild, and there is a strong sense of mud, but beyond that there are few positives to take from this film.
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