Wuthering Heights (2011) – Film Review
Director: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Nichola Burley, James Howson
by Dan Berlinka
Andrea Arnold’s bold Brontë adaptation focuses on the elemental relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff, attempting to put it in a context of violence and abuse. This in turn receives an overtly racial dimension by the casting of Glave and Howson as younger and older versions of the novel’s ‘dark-skinned gypsy’.
The visual approach is hand-held and documentary. There are no stunning widescreen vistas, the Moors are cramped into a 4:3 frame in which it appears to be constantly raining. This telling is certainly earthy – literally – there’s a LOT of mud. The presence of nature is felt throughout.
“Like a footnote for A level students”
But ultimately, stripping away the romance and the language leaves little more than a dour succession of incidents. None of the leads have the charisma or presence to make us believe in, or care about, their passions.
Arnold’s work is always worth a look. But unlike other recent literary adaptations like, say, We Need To Talk About Kevin, this experimental interpretation feels more like a footnote for A-level students. It doesn’t quite work as a film in its own right.