Wuthering Heights

Directed by Andrea Arnold
Written by Emily Brontë (novel) and Andrea Arnold (screenplay)
On general release from 11th November 2011

Reviewed by Alicia Rose

A tale of two halves is possibly how this period adaptation of the 164-year-old classic novel by Emily Brontë is delivered. From the outset there is much fervour in bringing a sensory penance to the viewer as director Andrea Arnold aspires to emphatically imprint onto the observer that life on the Yorkshire moors for one particular Christian family is foreboding, grim and brutally unfair. There is a fine line between direction that is gritty or just plain fanciful and it is into the latter category that Arnold falls. In the heartfelt need to convey the missive of a love tragedy there is a niggling twitch of over exaggeration, over dramatization and over the top handheld camera action as the young Catherine and Heathcliff become acquainted.

Repetition in conditions of weather and human toil again are bestowed upon the watcher lest they forget just how bleak daily life could be. With that in mind, what else was there for the young siblings to do other than rebel and run free amongst the enchanting desolation of the moors?

For close to fifty minutes there is little dialogue, which in itself is a true test as to whether the acting, direction and cinematography can hold strong and true. At times the acting trips on the cobbles, catches on the gate and is perhaps a little singed by the fire. The quality of direction is mostly too enthusiastic to hold real, but all is not lost as merit must pass to the Director of Photography and crewmembers responsible for cinematography – this being by far the most outstanding feature of the film. As the minutes grind on into the second half, the passage of time continues to express despair and misery. A pickup in dialogue ensues to further explore intricacies of human traits such as jealousy, spite, revenge and the butterfly effect thereof and in its wake allows the viewer to ‘fill in the gaps’ of their own imagination. During Wuthering’s 128 minutes there are long passages of tedium, short spurts of brilliance, unnecessary and gratuitous violence toward animals and the relentless notion that there is absolutely no happiness to be gained in true love. True to the moorlands classic? It’s possibly worth watching to come up with your own considered judgement.

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