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By Jess Fenton
8th October 2012

Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ has had many an adaptation since its 1847 publication. While it’s not quite the feel-good story of the century, none have taken it quite to its bleakest depths as Andrea Arnold in her third feature film effort.

Choosing to be loyal to the setting in both time and location, Arnold’s most obvious, striking and most appealing drawcard is in her decision to change the race of Heathcliff. The race issue strengthens the conflict between the main characters in their understanding of their affections, their place in society and ultimately what has kept them from each other. It also amps the animosity between Heathcliff and Hindley, making the revenge Heathcliff seeks that much sweeter when such a moral and Godless injustice has been committed against him for so many years.


Cutting through the set up and the long drawn-out consequences of actions, Arnold has chosen to dive straight into Catherine and Heathcliff’s story, and there she stays for 101 minutes, never straying. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is known just as well for its setting in the Northern England Yorkshire moors, and Arnold showcases their grey, misty, wet and wild expanses while the characters go through the minutiae of daily life. Rarely a word is spoken during the first half of the film as the stage is set for its passionate and anger-charged third act. Unfortunately it’s this lack of communication that leaves the audience with a wanting, and the lacklustre conclusion as the film's initial fresh take falls into old habits as it creeps closer to its source material.

While visually potent, ultimately the film's emotional target is never quite reached.

While visually potent, ultimately the film's emotional target is never quite reached; it’s almost too cold for those moments of pure passion to rise to the surface. Saying that, admiration is most definitely deserved for Arnold’s brave and original vision, as well as her decision to cast vastly unknown actors.

For fans of the book, it’s a new way to experience the classic, but expect to walk out feeling as drained and colourless as the images you’ve just witnessed.

RELEASE DATE: 11/10/2012
RUN TIME: 2h 9m
CAST: Kaya Scodelario
James Northcote
Amy Wren
Nichola Burley
Steve Evets
James Howson
Oliver Milburn
Paul Hilton
Shannon Beer
DIRECTOR: Andrea Arnold
WRITERS: Andrea Arnold
Olivia Hetreed
PRODUCERS: Robert Bernstein
Kevin Loader
Douglas Rae
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