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Bold but boring and so bleak
rogerdarlington20 November 2011
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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Dark, Unlikeable, Violent and .... er .... Smug?
UncleJack1 December 2011
Like other reviewers I have read Emily Bronte's novel, but I am not sure we were reading the same book. My strongest impression from first reading was wonder that the book could be so engaging without a single character with whom to identify.

The characters in Wuthering Heights are unlikeable; Heathcliff and Hindley are downright nasty. Hatred, contempt and jealousy are the overriding emotions of the story. Certainly there is love – strong passionate love too – but it lives in dark corners and is ultimately destructive.

This film captures much of the emotion of the book. The first half, with Heathcliff, Catherine and Hindley as children is played very well indeed.

Heathcliff's character is determined in these early years at Wuthering Heights, and so it is in the film. When Heathcliff returns as an adult, inexplicably played by another actor, his heart has hardened and revenge, hatred and violence dominate his character. But James Howson who plays the adult Heathcliff is not up to the task, and nor it appears is the direction. Heathcliff is certainly violent, but this is mostly directed against animals seemingly as means of relieving his frustrations, rather than the depiction of a genuinely violent man. His appalling treatment of Isabelle is largely glossed over and the film ends before he starts abusing Hareton. Hatred, contempt and jealousy are expressed mainly by close-ups of facial expressions, and here Howson in the finery of his wealth only seems able to portray smugness.

The film lacks a point of view. The camera-work suggests the film is intended to show things from Heathcliff's perspective, but much seems to be deliberately obfuscated where Heathcliff would have known exactly what was going on. The audience is continually kept in the dark, emphasised by the rain, mist and long nights on the moors and, just in case we haven't got the idea, by repeated scenes shot out of focus. This is all very well, adding to atmosphere, but the book manages to bring the reader into the story; this film seeks to distance the audience, as voyeurs only. The people we see are the same people we read about and with much the same character. The children, it is true, were interesting to watch; but when Heathcliff went away, returning without comment played by a different actor (and Catherine too for that matter, but Kaya Scodelario played her role better; she had less to do), I found I no longer cared about any of them.

Heathcliff played as a black man works well. He is clearly of foreign extraction in the book – Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen – although equally clearly not 'a regular black' (also a quote). A black Heathcliff is far more convincing than an obviously white English one.

The language is also rather more 'colourful' than in the book. But this too seems to be justified. It sounds true enough to me and I did not detect any neologisms. It must be pretty impenetrable to non-native English speakers, but there is precious little of it. I know Heathcliff is taciturn, but the silences are unbearable. Even the book has Nelly Dean to carry the dialogue.

Finally there is the ending. The book more or less describes the story backwards, starting long after the film has ended and showing Heathcliff in his ultimate form. The film, quite rightly in my opinion, is in chronological order (barring some unnecessary and distracting flashbacks) and covers only Heathcliff's relationships with Catherine and Hindley. The ending is well chosen in terms of plot, but totally undermines whatever integrity the film had, for the entire film is shot without a background soundtrack. What we hear are the sounds of nature, songs being sung, out of tune and out of time but utterly in character. A poor band playing a mournful Christmas hymn (the Coventry Carol, is it?), branches tapping on a window, even though this last does not sound quite right, all add to the film's bleakness. But then, with only about a minute to go till the end, there intrudes a modern song played on modern instruments in a studio. I quite like Mumford and Sons, but what on earth is that song doing there? At least it could have started after the credits began to roll; the mood destroyed, this is one film I did not stay to read them.
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Markcheshire20 November 2011
This is a film about domestic violence, racism, cycles of abuse. It contains many scenes involving the infliction of pain. This is quite apart from the love story. So why did it leave my partner and I so unemotionally affected, apart from the rush of relief at leaving the cinema?

Wuthering Heights started well for me; I thought I was going to enjoy the experience of wild moorland, naturalism, authentic dirt, etc. Unfortunately, too little attention seemed to be paid to the quality of some of the cast's acting (some of which was, frankly, embarrassing) and after the nth roll on the wet moorland grass I began to lose patience with the lack of attention to the narrative detail.

Yes, the moors looked fantastic. Yes, we got that life was grim.

But the affectation of the hand-held camera is a metaphor for the film as a whole. It wobbles about and makes you feel a bit nauseous. And then it does it over and over again and again until you want to beg for mercy.
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Failed attempt to shock
mdrocioscott14 September 2011
Saw this at the Venice film festival last week. It had quite a few walk outs near the beginning (probably the strong Yorkshire accents with lots of background noise made it unintelligible for non native English speakers) and they were the lucky ones as it certainly did not improve over the following 2 hours.

The director's main aim seemed to be to try and shock audiences who thought they were coming to an Emma Thompson type costume drama by making the film as morose as possible and throwing in lots of swearing, violence and a bit of necrophilia. Unfortunately the only shocking thing was that they had managed to make such a bad film out of a classic novel.

There were numerous petty things which annoyed me about this film, e.g. the use of pathetic fallacy with the weather is way over the top (the Earnshaws live under a constant biblical downpour whereas there rich neighbours in the next door valley have a climate from a fruit juice advert); the cameraman either had Parkinson's or had been previously employed in one of those American police series where reality is represented by a constantly jerky camera; the actors playing the adult Cathy and Heathcliff look nothing like their younger selves - Heathcliff even appears to have changed race!; would a 19th century strict Christian father be happy with someone sleeping with his teenage daughter in the house?; would a 19th century Heathcliff be able to swan around Edgar house willy nilly? I could go on.

Most importantly I think the director fails completely in making us feel any sympathy for her characters. Heathcliff has a hard time of it in his youth but has no redeeming features. It's not helped by the fact that the actor playing the adult Heathcliff is atrociously bad at his job.

I have no problem with making Wuthering Heights dark and brooding but make it a bit less daft.
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Waste of time.
morn-hyland1 June 2012
This is nothing more than Andrea Arnold's feeble attempt at mimicking Terrence Malick, and she does it oh so badly. Surreal long shots of moths and feathers are fine if they're done well, but if they're just peppered in, in lieu of actual explanation or development, it cheapens the entire experience of watching this admittedly already terrible piece of artwork.

This film was not remotely true to the novel, and to even entitle it "Wuthering Heights" is such a bastardization that one wonders if the director even read the book. (Notably, the film ends at the midpoint of the book... and takes upwards of two, agonizing, poorly-directed hours to get there).

Also. Gypsies aren't black. Worst casting imaginable.

Bronte is rolling in her grave.
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let down by non-professional actors
DollarSterling29 November 2011
It is a shame that this version of Wuthering Heights was overlong and dull. Why? It was probably to do with the main characters being played by first timers who are unable, or unwilling, to do anything more than move about as instructed and simply do not inhabit their roles. They are leaden.

In Andrea Arnold's latest "edgy" production, the only characters that have any depth, have anything going on behind the eyes, and therefore engage the audience, are the characters played by professionals – namely Paul Hilton, Steve Evets & Kaya Scodelario.

And yet she proudly declares that she likes to use "real people" instead of professional actors because "real people" are "authentic". But it is these "real people" who let her down by not being able to act and by being unreliable (being late, not showing up for ADR etc).

Andrea Arnold appears to be blissfully unaware of how insulting she is being to an ancient profession (actors are "real people" too) and she ignores the fact so many better films than any she has made are populated by pros.

In this, as in her inability to explain why the film was shot 4:3, she reveals that she has little interest in movies and movie making. So why should an audience be interested in her movies?

Thankfully, Andrea Arnold does use professionals behind the camera. The cinematography by Robbie Ryan, a professional and quite probably a real person, was superb. Although the over vigorous use of the hand held style meant that, for a lot of the time, the screen is filled with a meaningless mass of blurs which only serves to emphasise to the audience the presence of a camera. Thus the fourth wall is broken and any magic is lost.

Since winning an Oscar for her short film, Andrea Arnold has now made three movies. She may well carry on making movies, so long as there are producers brave enough to take on a disorganised artist who might be better off working in a studio on her own.
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how can Wuthering Heights lack passion?
CountZero31324 November 2011
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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They got the wuthering right
Igenlode Wordsmith15 December 2011
My experience was so drastically opposed to what I'd heard about this film in the newspapers that I was going to write a shocked review here; but I see that it has already all been said. Wilfully obscure narrative (I went with someone who had never read the book and had to explain to him afterwards who was who and what had happened, and why), self-indulgent overuse of wildlife shots and arty camera angles (once is good; twice is good; ALL THE TIME is tedious), important plot developments whisked over in the joints between one scene and the next, poor performances from the adult actors, jerky camera-work, insufficient lighting, and a variety of deliberately repulsive scenes of slaughter, necrophilia, blood-sucking and copulation in the mud (and I'm not talking about that bizarre bog scene between Cathy and Heathcliff, clearly intended to be very significant since it was repeated at the end...)

A lot of the time I felt I was being battered over the head with the director's insistence that This Is a Very Important Metaphor but simply didn't understand what the shot of a beetle, or a horse's flank, or a patch of stone, or yet another rainstorm, was supposed to be saying. (The one thing I didn't notice, interestingly, was that the film is in Academy ratio rather than widescreen - probably because the vast majority of the pictures I watch are not in widescreen and in fact I generally dislike it, so I certainly wasn't conscious of that as a drawback.) To be fair, my other companion, who adores the novel, thought the film was the closest she'd ever seen to capturing the spirit of the book, although she too was somewhat disappointed in the 'adult' section.

I suppose you could say that it was a disquieting film of a disquieting book, in which none of the characters were sympathetic because none of the characters in the original are sympathetic: for my part I found myself roused to a furious dislike and resentment, so was at least not indifferent to it. I didn't walk out of what was a sparsely-attended screening -- I didn't even allow myself to disturb my neighbours by looking at my watch -- but I fantasised about being able to leave and was longing for the experience to end.

I think the film has power, which is why I haven't marked it lower than I have. I also think that in many ways it is a bad piece of film-making, more akin to a pretentious video installation than the telling of a complicated and violent story.

The wind really does 'wuther' like that in Yorkshire, though...
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Hated it!
caitlin27086 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I would definitely not recommend this to someone who has read the book. Not because it didn't keep to the story (actually, it was pretty close, with a few exceptions, but that doesn't usually bother me), but because the entire second half was missed out! It probably goes up to about chapter 16 in the book, which isn't even half way through! (I'm not sure whether or not this would be considered a spoiler?)

It just left me feeling like I hadn't finished watching it all, and I'm sure it would have been annoying for viewers who haven't read the novel, as it didn't really reach a satisfying ending.

Other than that, I wasn't too keen on it anyway. I didn't feel like Heathcliff had been portrayed properly (not because of his skin colour or anything but because I felt like he was too quiet)- I know this is just my own opinion and view of the character but it annoyed me! Also, I wish Nelly and Joseph had had bigger parts.

However, if you like 'arty' films, you might find this interesting. The shaky camera and the fact that you can hardly ever see clearly does make it does feel very real.
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One of the worst films- lovers of literature BEWARE
rebecca-x10 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If you are intending on watching a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights then I would recommend you watching one of the earlier adaptations. This 'film' does not tell the story in any shape or form. Obviously this is not to say that people shouldn't be able to create their own take on a piece of literature, however, anyone who is expecting a retelling of the classic novel should be aware of this before watching.

My main faults with this film were in its complete lack of characterisation. I did not feel like I knew or understood any of the characters, and while as previous reviews have pointed out Bronte hardly presents the most likable characters they did at least have several dimensions. I felt no sympathy towards any of the characters in this film, for a start there was barely enough dialogue to even form an opinion on them. I feel that Nelly and Joseph were completely overlooked, and Nelly in particular was not able to give the film so much of the charm that the book has.

Another fault would be the complete lack of passion; in the novel the reader really gets a sense of the anguish and torture that both Heathcliff and Catherine feel. When the line 'May you wake in torment' was changed to 'May you wake in agony' I was disgusted with the fact such a powerful line had been changed for something with a different meaning for no good reason. Where is the passion we get in the novel 'I cannot live without my life, I cannot live without my soul'? Heathcliff and Catherine barely seemed to care in the film!

Other flaws would include the fact you could barely hear anything over the exaggerated wind, and the directors blatant desire to make the film unique and quirky. Obviously some viewers may be upset by the unnecessary violence to animals that was depicted graphically, as well as the language. I did not personally enjoy either of these aspects. And of course as a lover of the novel the complete change of storyline - that said it is an adaptation so I can live with that despite thinking it ruined a classic. All in all the main disappointment really has to be the characterisation (or lack of) particularly the failure for any of these characters to develop throughout the whole two hours.

You might enjoy this film if you like a lot of silence, a lot of wind and rain, inappropriate music choice for a film set in the 18th-19th century, and a total disregard for the reasons that make this novel so loved to this day.
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Total rubbish.
ken-830-2875830 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
If this was Wuthering Heights then I'll stand hanging. I'm certain that Emily Bronte's book did not contain such disgusting language, nor did she intend to portray the gypsy Heathcliffe as a black man though I suppose, in 2011, that ticks a politically correct box. I live in Yorkshire and I can assure you that we do have fine days and the moors can look bleak on bad days but viewers of this film are given the impression that it is a constant hell hole of howling winds and driving rain. Scenes jumped from one thing to another without explanation. Many of them were so dark that I could not figure out who was in them nor what was going on and the lack of script made them devoid of clues. There was much totally unnecessary footage of animal cruelty including a sheep's dying glugs as blood spurted from its mouth and neck after Heathcliffe had stabbed it. I stuck it out up to the point in which Heathcliffe number two (who didn't bear any resemblance whatsoever to Heathcliffe number one) was trying to open the coffin lid then left in disgust. Total rubbish!
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jack-twiy30 January 2013
This adaptation is a valiant effort to depict the 'dark' side of WH. The dark side that anybody who has read it knows about. For this reason, the film was void of purpose. Shrouded in real animal slaughter (true), over sexualisation of the innocence of C&H's youths, and necrophilia, this film quickly became nothing more than that shocking viral video your friend enjoyed too much ages ago.

If the book had never been written, this could be acceptable. Sadly, the book is a tad bit of a classic. If you have not read WH, please do not watch this film. While trying to display a deeper WH, an already difficult task, the film has become a shallow and ultimately senseless waste of a couple of hours. The plot is bastardised, the characters make no sense, and the 'artistic' approach to film always winds me up anyway.

Watch the black and white Hollywood version. They new how to follow a plot.
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A groundbreaking, visually stunning film
wilcocks-28 November 2011
Hareton disturbed me the most in this film based on Wuthering Heights. Dour before his time, he appears now and then in the early scenes, a dirty blonde-haired urchin, to gawp at visitors, or to witness violent abuse from the sidelines. In the final scene, he is seen hanging up dogs by their collars. The depiction of Hareton is related to the 'cruelty breeds cruelty' message in Andrea Arnold's film – and in Emily Brontë's novel, if that can be seen, glibly, as a straight deliverer of messages. Considerable respect has been shown to the original: a fair amount of thought and research seems to have gone into finding out what was in Emily Brontë's mind and how she saw her characters, and into the late eighteenth century in Yorkshire. All the artefacts – stoneware jars, spades for digging out peat and so on – look as if they have been borrowed from a folk museum, the costumes appear to be authentic, and Heathcliff is black. All perfectly credible.

The unknown James Howson from Leeds was cast as the adult Heathcliff, with the equally unknown Solomon Glave as his young version. We do not find out which language he speaks when he first arrives, because there is very little speaking in the whole film. It is not dialogue- free, employing a few sentences and phrases from the novel, rather like the quotes a candidate might fish out for an A-level essay, with more of them in the film's second half, after Heathcliff's return, than in the first. At other times, the words which the characters use seem to have grown from improvisation sessions, giving the action a kind of Ken Loach feel at times. To leave out most of Emily Brontë's beautiful prose – and the second half of her story, as usual – are bold moves which a few literary folk might find outrageous. I can fully understand the opinions of those who might describe the film as 'coarse and disagreeable', but then the structure of the novel does not match the needs of the cinema. Unlike Cary Fukunaga, who retained as many of Charlotte's words as possible in his Jane Eyre, Andrea Arnold has gone in an opposite direction, because she has decided not to bother with conventional costume dramas.

This Wuthering Heights relies on cinematography, the impact of fresh and young actors (eat your heart out, Stanislavski), an authentic period feel and a powerful, often startling harshness. Arnold has said that she "had to pick out the things that had resonance to me" and that she wanted to give the children plenty of time at the beginning.

This was a good move, because the children are by far the most interesting. Solomon Glave and Shannon Beer have "not acted before", but manage to be fascinating, holding everything together for an hour. Full marks to Arnold there. The story is told through sounds and sights: we see the boy's amazement and disorientation when he arrives, Cathy's warm smile – the only warmth – a feather brushing a cheek, his hand on the horse's rump when he rides behind her, his smelling of her hair, the weals on his back after a beating by Joseph, her mouth as she licks the blood from them, their crude and muddy sexual fumbling out on the moors. Sensual imagery with a vengeance! Raw teenage emotion in our faces! And I loved Shannon Beer's charming rendition of Barbara Allen. She's a proper wild, wicked slip of a girl.

Irish cinematographer Robbie Ryan won the Golden Osella Award at the last Venice Film Festival for Best Cinematography, deservedly. His low shots through clumps of sedge and his panoramas of the moors (filming took place on the bleaker areas around Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales) are stunning, but what is especially memorable is his selection of close-ups of the insects, flowers and small creatures to be found in the heather and under the bilberries. I was looking out for harebells, but did not notice any. Perhaps they were the wrong kind of flower here. The wind sounded right – I recognise that wind – as it battered the microphone relentlessly.

The creatures of the wild moors a couple of centuries ago have a strong present-times feel, because casting in this way has put racial prejudice in the forefront. Heathcliff is full of revengeful passions because he has been racially abused. The violent skinhead Hindley (Lee Shaw) is notably foul-mouthed when he does speak, like an adherent of some far-right organisation, and the enforced baptism scene shows that the church was pretty short on tender loving care when it came to new dark-skinned members of the congregation. The West Yorkshire accents are just right.

In the second half, the adult Heathcliff (James Howson) does not spend long on relishing his revenge on Hindley, but that is not the only disappointment. Both James Howson and Kaya Scodelario, who plays the adult Cathy, bear only token resemblances to their child counterparts, and have less presence. Cathy is not differentiated from Isabella enough, and seems to be unrelated to her younger self, which can not be explained away by her presence in the sophistication of Thrushcross Grange, where manners (and the mild weather) are always better. Heathcliff seems somehow clumsier and less sympathetic, a fact which is not helped by James Howson's lack of acting experience (more forgivable in Solomon Glave), and the shots of flowers and insects which sustained the first half become less effective because they are repeated too much. James Northcote's acting as Edgar is faultless, but seems out of place here, as if he has stepped out of another film.

And that other film could be the 1939 version, which is at the other end of the spectrum.
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Beautiful scenery, ruined by crass dialogue and dumbing down
jimb777 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I struggled a great deal with this version of Bronte's classic. I'm a big fan of the book, and although I thought it was very beautifully filmed the complete lack of respect for the text was shameful. Hardly any original Bronte was used; what was used was altered - not for the best - and the newly written text bordered, frankly, on imbecilic. It's terribly condescending of the makers to assume that today's audience will be incapable of understanding Bronte's stunning prose.

The screen-story was fairly true to the first half of the novel, but suffered from the poor casting of young Cathy who seemed too daft and ordinary by half. Having Cathy and Heathcliff meet as older children was a mistake, in my opinion, as it denied the story their innocent, young-cub type bond. There was rather an embarrassing scene where young Cathy and Heathcliff writhed together in the mud. Awkward, pretentious and such an obvious, crass device, equalled only by Heathcliff later writhing on Cathy's corpse.

Wuthering Heights (the house) itself was way too squalid.

I wondered in the end if the director/screen-writer actually liked or respected the original story at all. Everything that makes it wonderful and enduring was stripped from it – with the exception of the countryside – and all we were left with were two fantastically ordinary individuals who, within the parameters of the setting offered by the film, would certainly not have bothered to have kept their hands off each other long enough to cause themselves, or their nearest and dearest, any of the trouble detailed in the novel.

On a practical note, the epic length of the credits really struck me. How did it take that many people to make THAT??
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A dreary film
chrisarciszewska14 November 2011
I wouldn't recommend this film unless you like endless shots of bleak moorland, mud, circling lapwings and the backs of peoples'heads. Funny how the poster show the back of young Heathcliffe's head. I don't mind slow moving films where not much happens, but I didn't feel this particular film had the artistic merit to carry it off. It could have done with much more rigorous editing to bring the running time down to about 90 minutes.

Having Heathcliffe played by black actors was an interesting idea and worked well. I also liked it that a large part of the film concentrated on the early parts of the book -apparently in contrast to other film versions -especially as the younger actors performed quite well. It was as a shame that the acting deteriorated so much with the adult cast to the extent that I could detect no passion or chemistry between Heathcliffe and Cathy.

I thought the film was overall a dreary waste of time. It seems to have been liked more by the professional critics than by the real audience - show people grim raw reality far removed from their comfortable lives (I am referring to London based critics who only spend weekends in the country) and they are easily impressed. I got the same impression with reviews of Winter's Bone -a film I thought equally bad.
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Excellent alternative version - with some reservations
garethjv24 November 2011
OK I'll start off with what I definitely found disturbing about this film and did not like. As others have mentioned there is some worrying animal cruelty in this film - no I don't mean the trapped hare or the killing of rabbits - I can easily stomach this. What did worry me is the hanging of the small dogs from fence posts by their collars which clearly left the dogs in a distressed state - I can't believe this was generated by special effects so can only assume that some dogs were left dangling in this way for the purpose of producing this film - not acceptable in my book.

That aside I actually enjoyed this film and would have given it 8 out 10 had it not been for the unnecessary cruelty. I have yet to see 'Red Road' so this was my first experience of an Andrea Arnold film. What struck me is how little dialogue there was - instead we are treated to the Yorkshire moors in all their bleakness. I think this has been done to great effect - the wind noise as the camera is bouncing along the moorland is surprisingly effective at immersing the viewer in the wild Yorkshire landscape.

The first half of the film - where Heathcliff and Cathy are still children, has some very powerful moments. Unfortunately I found the grown up versions less convincing, although it is my opinion that Arnold deliberately chose actors that did look somewhat different to their younger versions; there are many flashbacks in the second half of the film and these are made more prominent by featuring the different actors.

Other reviewers have pointed out how dark this film is and that there are no likable characters. Well surprise surprise it's an incredibly bleak book and it's a relief that this has been retained here. What is unfortunate is that the whole of the second part of the book featuring Cathy's daughter Catherine has been completely omitted, but at the slow pace of this film it would have required at least another 2 hours to cover this. Also I might suggest that Isabella was actually quite likable!

Would I recommend anyone to see this? Not to an animal lover for sure - it's unfortunate that these scenes are included and I'm slightly surprised that this is permitted in filming. But for the wonderful experience of being immersed in the wildness of the moors, definitely.
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Emily Brontë is rolling in her grave.
jamie-968228 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I couldn't see or here anything in this film. The lighting was so bad it was like the studio must of spent the budget on other prodjects, the horid camera work when Heatcliff covers his eyes, the wind that blocked out all sound probably because the sound crew realised the unintellgible filth coming out of the actors mouth was not worth hearing and the child nudity the actor of young Heathcliff was barley 14 at filming I hope this edition fades from public memory as the infinitely better 1978 version did, I gave up ten minutes before the end after exepting this was not Emily Brontë's masterpiece that I know and love.
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johnpeachey11 December 2011
Unfortunately I watched this on the big screen and it was one of the longest two hours I have spent in a cinema.

The film lurches from rain (oh how it rains) to mud to violent beatings to inconsequential romance and death.

Rushed and blurry hand-held photography is irritating. Relationships are not established and I could have done without the F and the C words. It was gloom, gloom and more gloom and in the end... I didn't care. The only slight glimmer of light was the actress who played the young Cathy.

I wish I'd had the courage to disturb my neighbours and join the other members of the audience who walked out. If I could have got my money back I would have done so.
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It's Grim up North
MikeWright7525 March 2012
Words can't describe how dull this movie is. It had to happen...after so many remakes...the Turkey Award goes to this one. Aside from the utter lack of charisma in Heathcliffe, child and adult, and the insipid banality of Catherine, to the lingering shots of trembling thistles and scratchy branches against windows...this version just didn't cut the mustard. It seemed to lack everything. Vision. Storytelling. Visuals. Music. Passion. In short, it was boring, blinkered and bordering on banality. This has to be worst version yet they've remade. If it ain't broke,don't remake it. Dreadful, dull, and dire. All the atmosphere of a plate of cold hotpot.
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Fearsome film work but a complete disregard for the audience
martinqmaine12 March 2013
This version of Wuthering Heights, left me revolted and wishing I had given up and left earlier. Where was the love and passion? Where was Wuthering Heights itself? In its attempts to show how awful (in its strict meaning) the Yorkshire Moors must be and how terrible were the lives of its inhabitants, the film just missed pretty much every other valid point of the book. And the title should have been "Young Heathcliff" because every other character was washed out.

The whole "adult" section wasn't even worth bothering about, not even adult Heathcliff. And adult Cathy, a day after watching, has completely gone from my memory, so little impact did she make. Young Cathy was the only positive thing I can rescue.

The idea of a black Heathcliff doesn't ring true. While I do feel that one of the book's main themes is racism, it is clear that a Latin or East European actor should have portrayed Heathcliff, but then the film seems to be more a reflection of today's society rather than the 18th century.

In the book Heathcliff arrives as a small child, small enough so that his relationship with Cathy is fraternal, however the film has Heathcliff arriving as a horny 13 year old and so the two of them almost start off with sexual tension, which was never apparent in the book. In fact the book is so chaste that sex rarely rears its head: babies appear almost magically! The confused fraternal/sexual love that the two have for each other in the book is totally subsumed in the film.

Hindley's jealousy is another aspect of the book which is converted into his portrayal in the film as just a foul-mouthed violent skinhead. Hindley becomes this despicable wretch, because he was so unfairly treated by his adored father, who lavished his love on the racially inferior (Hindley's point of view) ragamuffin over him, for what reason we do not really know, so we do not know who Hindley really was. But jealousy can turn a normal man into a monster.

And finally since I am comparing the film to the book, rather than the other film versions, another reviewer commented on how unintelligible this film would be if you hadn't read the book. I totally agree, as dour as the book is, it has a very clear and very clever and well thought out plot and one never is allowed to wander far from the core story. The film however is plot less and the "story" can only be understood with reference to the audience having read the book, which rather defeats the whole exercise of producing a film of a major literary work. And anyway while Emily Brontë does try to recreate the atmosphere of a dark wuthering place, to frame her characters, the film does the opposite, it uses the characters to add a little colour to its deathly main theme the colourless, violent, rugged, yet fearfully beautiful Yorkshire Moors. It would maybe have been better adapted for a Discovery Channel history documentary, rather than a well known novel.
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Why I liked this film...
NewViewProductions23 November 2011
With Wuthering Heights being my favourite book of all time I was a little sketchy as to how this British independent would be, having seen previous film versions of the book and been reasonably disappointed. Andrea Arnold is of course a great director and Mumford & Sons are my favourite band so I couldn't wait to see this... I wasn't disappointed, what you need to understand is that the story doesn't focus a great deal on Heathcliff's life or back story. What it does it it focuses on the bleak conditions and harsh and realistic conditions in which the story will have actually taken place. The way it worked was very clever and you could almost feel the cold country air as you were watching it. I was happy with the film as it was a different take on a classic novel, 6 out of ten for me.
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An example of why being 'artsy' doesn't make a film any good
beautifullyillustrated16 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Contains spoilers! OK, so I'll get the positives out of the way first. I've read a lot of reviews for this movie and people seem fairly unanimous that the older actor who played Heathcliff was dreadful. To me, I thought he was one of the only good attributes to the film. He conveyed Heathcliff's abrasiveness perfectly and it's essential to remember that in the novel Heathcliff wasn't meant to be intelligent or comprehensible. After you've read the book, you're meant to be confused as to whether Heathcliff was an 'imp of Satan' or one with a brutal exterior that disguised intense emotion. It was Brontes criticism of the archetypal Byronic hero, challenging the poetic stock character of an abrasive, unpleasant and perhaps even violent individual who is in fact very passionate. In this case, the domestic violence and animal cruelty showed by Heathcliff makes it almost impossible to sympathise with the character, which was one of Brontes key themes. Heathcliff is played brilliantly and fits my exact idea of everything he should embody, Literature's most infamous anti-hero.

I also loved the authentic feel of the film, the director went right back to the roots of Wuthering Heights and the setting is perfect.

That's seriously it. It was, undoubtedly, the worst Wuthering Heights adaptation I've ever seen. Excessive pathetic fallacy and animal metaphors (the two birds flying was unimaginative and annoying!) and a pretentious absence of dialogue. Almost all of the characters were completely underdeveloped and it seems Arnold had more fun showing the moors than engaging the audience in a clear plot. Cathy was underplayed- in the book she's much more exaggerated and distinctive- and Nelly Dean was just...was she even there? I can't blame the acting though, it was the fault of whoever did the screen-play (or, more fittingly, didn't do the screenplay). You're constantly waiting for the story to get going and then you realise you're over half way through and the majority of it should have happened already. And when Mumford and Sons kicked in...I nearly fell off my chair. That really did put the cherry on the shitty cake. It sadly reminded me of Luhrmanns' Gatsby. Pitiful.

I don't understand how anyone can take one of history's most passionate, intense novels of destruction, love and revenge and turn it into something so dull, drab and morose.
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I wanted to walk back out!
jealousfreak25 September 2011
I saw this movie from the director Andrea Arnold during the 7th film festival in Zurich (September 2011).

It took all my determination not to walk out of this one. I knew enough about Arnold not to expect a costume flick, nothing that would remind the audience of Jane Austen and I didn't expect anything light either. Bronte's novel isn't exactly light and I was actually looking forward to a darker interpretation.

What's the story? A young boy named Heathcliff (in this interpretation he's black) is taken in by a rich family in England, where he gets abused by his foster brother and where he develops an intense obsession with his foster sister, Cathy.

I wasn't that bothered by the weather. Even though it was raining cats and dogs near the house of the Earnshaw's. I'm not exaggerating, it was literally pouring down, there was an enormous amount of fog and the sun seemed to be a myth. The rich neighbours a few hours away, however, had a lovely climate.

I wasn't that bothered by how minimalistic the movie is. On the contrary I enjoy movies with no soundtrack. There's almost no dialog. Something, I usually enjoy as well. And there's an overuse of wildlife metaphors (mostly bugs and feathers).

I wasn't that bothered by the shaky camera either. Even though it looked like they were imitating one of those reality cop shows.

I wasn't even bothered by the fact that the older Heathcliff and Cathy looked nothing like their younger selves. And by nothing, I mean nothing.

What did bother me?

First of all the animal abuse. I understand that after hunting a rabbit you need to break its neck. I understand to put lamb chops onto a plate you need to first kill the lamb. I also understand that when there were too many dogs around one estate some would get killed. But, I honestly don't have/want to see this. I really don't need a director showing me close shots of how these animals die.

Then, there's not one likable character in this story. Not one redeeming quality. I am aware that it's similar in the book. But, one does not care about the love story or the protagonist. The protagonist is a poor soul but he also behaves like a jerk, the love story is an obsession and destroys two human beings. Plus, it ends with some necrophilia, which btw, isn't an exaggeration either.

All this made me want to climb through the screen and go and punch a few characters. I don't like it when a film makes me feel nothing but aggression. Since I remember, vaguely, that the book is just as dark and depressing, maybe this just isn't my story.
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Fantastic film, gritty realism
gina-naylor4 December 2011
To fully appreciate this film, I think you must first understand the nuances of working class, Northern life. For those of you who have never visited Haworth and the surrounding area, where the Brontes lived for much of their adult lives, this film is a real eye opener to the true nature of living within such a landscape. This is a hard film to watch in parts, but so was life in the era in which Emily's story is set.

At the time the book was written living conditions in Haworth were harsh, with a life expectancy of only 25 years and a death rate of 41% in babies aged 6 months and under. Indeed, of the four Bronte siblings who made it to adulthood (the others dying in childhood) only Charlotte lived into her thirties, Anne, Emily and Branwell dying at 29,30 and 31.

When Emily's book 'Wuthering Heights' was released, it was met with a great furore of criticism for its hard hitting, brutal and cruel content. Many deemed its characters 'shocking and violent'. It was described as 'dark, disjointed, compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors.'

I think Andrea Arnold should be commended for remaining true to Emily's vision and the spirit in which her story was created.

Emily would have been pleased by the results.
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don't waste your time and money going to watch this film
mandyjanemay16 November 2011
This film is an obvious low budget load of rubbish. It certainly does no justice to the original story. The animal cruelty is appalling and unnecessary and i am surprised that it passed censors . I went with a friend and not surprisingly we were the only two people in the auditorium. The camera shots are very jumpy( obviously this is done on purpose,but not very well ),there is very little talking,no music and the scenes jump from one place to another and from one time to another. There are plenty of shots of fog, rain and mud and the backs of peoples heads. All in all it is a very boring and dreary film and we only stayed through the whole film to see if it would get better as it went on. Unfortunately i have nothing good to write about this film and the acts of animal cruelty are still in my mind.
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