Wuthering Heights (2011)

Wuthering Heights
Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed
Based on: Emily Brontë’s novel
Cast: James Howson, Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, Kaya Scodelario, Paul Hilton, Simone Jackson, Steve Evets, Lee Shaw, James Northcote, Nichola Burley
Seen on: 27.3.2021

When Mr Earnshaw (Paul Hilton) brings home an orphaned Black boy who he calls Heathcliff (Solomon Glave), his daughter Catherine (Shannon Beer) is at first taken aback. But then the two become inseperable. But in their harsh surroundings, their relationship also becomes one of harshness. When they grow up (James Howson, Kaya Scodelario), it turns to bitterness, especially when the rich neighbor Edgar (James Northcote) starts courting Catherine.

Wuthering Heights does not have an easy start with me. I absolutely hated the novel. But I was hoping that Arnold would still manage to turn the story into something I’d care for. Unfortunately, my hopes were disappointed in that regard.

The film poster showing Heathcliff (James Howson) in a close-up and Catherine (Kaya Scodelario) walking away in two separate images.

I will give the film this: it is stunningly suffocating. The constantly drab weather, the darkness, the small rooms and the fact that everything is shot in 4:3, Arnold and her team really captured the dreary oppression and violence of Heathcliff and Catherine’s upbringing. Watching it, you can really feel it in your bones.

I will also say that I thought that the film versions of Heathcliff and Catherine were slightly less assholish. But only slightly. For Catherine, it’s mostly because she takes a back seat here and adult Catherine is barely in the film at all. For Heathcliff it works because there is a vulnerability to young Heathcliff. But once adult Heathcliff returns, my sympathies went out the window (the way he treats Isabella (Nichola Burley) alone).

Heathcliff (Solomon Glave) and Catherine (Shannon Beer) sitting in the moors.

But I still fail to see the appeal of this story. The aggression these two show towards each other that is somehow mingled with passion, and the way everything just absolutely sucks… I just don’t get it. Especially since this is still somehow seen as a love story, as unhappy as it may be. Mutual destruction is not very romantic in my book.

That being said, Arnold’s take on the story and her inventive filmmaking does make this film different from many other period dramas and it is kind of worth seeing. That just doesn’t mean I liked it.

Heathcliff (James Howson) in the moors.

Summarizing: expertly made, horrible story.

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