Wuthering Heights - Blu-ray Review

'If you feel so inclined to watch something chilly of both spirit and weather on an Autumnal evening then Arnold's Wuthering Heights could well be the perfect film.'

Ambitious and certainly unique, Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights adaptation should be applauded for the amount of ideas it tries, even if many of them fall short, or end up actively damaging Emily Brontë's original narrative. This does not look like a film which was made by committee, nor is it your common or garden costume drama. For those looking for the screen version of Downton Abbey, this film is not it.

Arnold's primary decision is one which benefits the look of her film but damages the narrative. This is a Wuthering Heights obsessed with its locale; with the fearsome countryside which Heathcliff (James Howson and Solomon Glave) appears out of. More than half of the film is dedicated to a world-building narrative that sees younger Cathy (Shannon Beer) and Heathcliff (Glave) wandering the moors around the two houses at the centre of the narrative. It often looks spectacular; spectacular enough that Arnold appears to have been distracted from her story, which is turgidly paced and ill-balanced towards the very young characters, as opposed to the older ones who show up later on (Cathy at that point played by Kaya Scodelario, Heathcliff by Howson). As I remember one viewer remarking at the Leeds International Film Festival, where this premièred, it is a film in which the wind is a character. As a piece of visual art, above a narrative one, I can appreciate Wuthering Heights, although many of Arnold's apparently handheld landscape shots could have benefited from meeting a tripod.

With this approach as the backdrop, the director deserves copious praise for the performances she coaxes from her young cast. Both Beer and Glave give turns that appear to be deliberately sleepy, as distracted by the landscape as Arnold is. Later this sleepy air manifests itself as more of a novocaine shroud, cast over the perpetually silently unhappy Scodelario, as she stalks the moors and the unfamiliar oppressive landscape of her new home. Again, they might not be to everyone's tastes, but the cast do perfectly complement the mood of the film.

The control over what exactly it is that Wuthering Heights stands for slips only occasionally. The battle between Hindley (Lee Shaw) and Heathcliff feels forced and gets so little care given to it that Arnold does not seem to bother to age Shaw or change the actor when clearly Heathcliff changes markedly in the intervening period, as shown by the switch from Glave to Howson. At the film's final moments there's a bizarre musical number from Mumford And Sons: a nice song certainly but suited to this? Absolutely not.

If you feel so inclined to watch something chilly of both spirit and weather on an Autumnal evening then Arnold's Wuthering Heights could well be the perfect film. Just don't expect to be told a full and comprehensive story whilst your spirit is being sapped by constant Yorkshire drizzle and fog-soaked moorland.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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