Wuthering HeightsFeature Film | Andrea Arnold By Kristy Puchko
A visceral adaptation of the Brontë classic.
As follow-up to her heralded urban drama Fish Tank, fearless British auteur Andrea Arnold crafts a moody adaptation of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights that chucks out much of the text in favor of digging deep on atmosphere and mood. Arnold centers her drama on the growling Heathcliff, an oft silent orphan who is taken in by the well-off but tempestuous Earnshaw family. But the young boy (Solomon Glave) soon finds comfort in the arms of the youngest daughter Catherine (Shannon Beer), who is as quick to embrace him, as she is to strike him. Theirs is an attraction and love so fierce it's animalistic, something Arnold displays by intercutting the pair's almost feral interactions with shots of birds in flight. The performances of its young leads, both making their film debut, are extraordinary in their blend of boldness and vulnerability, which is echoed in the absorbing cinematography. The whole film throbs like a heartbeat thanks to its fluid and frantic handheld camerawork that swells and pulls so tight to its subjects that you can very nearly smell the rain or feel the snap of Catherine's hair whipping in the coarse winds.
While the latter half, wherein Heathcliff and Catherine are grown and played by James Howson and Kaya Scodelario respectively, feels inhibited compared to the unfettered first half, this too works. The lovers are now hemmed in by their obligations and the scars of their resentments; and we feel their frustration at being confined. We are firmly rooted in Heathcliff's mind as it reels from the grown Catherine's cruel games by unspooling memories of the two as adolescents wrestling in the mud and racing through the hills with such vivid abandon that its heartbreaking. These are wounds that never heal, and Arnold's Wuthering Heights makes sure they'll cut us deep as they did Heathcliff, never to be forgotten.
|Wuthering Heights trailer|