Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Limelight Magazine: Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte’s brooding love story is given a starkly neo-realist overhaul by British auteur Andrea Arnold, to haunting effect. Following up her bleakly beautiful Fish Tank (a doomed love story of a very different kind), Arnold continues her intensely raw approach to storytelling and sets it atop the windswept Yorkshire moors.

Preferring lashings of rain and mud to stuffy period film production design, Arnold’s bracing trip to Wuthering Heights feels more akin to documentary. Almost entirely devoid of dialogue, the camera trails around the Earnshaw family home, where dirty young foundling Heathcliff (Solomon Glave then James Howson are the first black actors to play the role) is unceremoniously introduced and told to pull his weight. But he and foster-sister Cathy (Shannon Beer then Kaya Scodelario) instead run wild in their stark surrounds, their friendship growing more intense by the day. Yet as they come of age, the pull of responsibility sets in, and Heathcliff becomes undone when Cathy accepts a marriage proposal from their rich neighbour Edgar Linton (James Northcote).

Many will know how the tale proceeds, but through Arnold’s eyes the story feels immediate and visceral. Once again displaying her skill with non-professional actors, Arnold’s version of Wuthering Heights is palpably, powerfully emotive.

4 Stars
** Win a copy of the film's beautiful poster HERE

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