Wuthering Heights Movie Review
When the farmer Earnshaw (Hilton) brings a street urchin (Howson) home after a trip to Liverpool, he adopts him as a son and has him christened Heathcliff. He bonds quickly with Earnshaw's daughter Catherine (Beer), but her older brother Hindley (Shaw) continually abuses him. This only gets worse after Earnshaw's death, and when Cathy decides to marry the rich neighbour Linton (Northcote), Heathcliff runs away. Years later, he returns (now Howson) to confront Cathy (now Scodelario) about her true feelings.
Arnold films this like a documentary shot on the bleak 19th century Yorkskire moors. We can feel the gusty wind and driving rain, not to mention the mud squishing under our feet. The contrast between the Earnshaws' windswept farm and the Linton's elegant manor is almost oppressive. And in this time and place, a black orphan boy is the lowest of the low; no wonder Cathy can't consider him as husband material. Even faithful farmhand Joseph (Evets) feels superior.
The script and camerawork are almost overpoweringly earthy. As are the performances. Beer and Gave are simply amazing in their roles, letting us see the life behind their eyes while building a powerful sense of chemistry. After this, Scodelario and Howson are a bit of a letdown, with their characters' more-repressed adult attitudes and their own less-naturalistic performances.
But the story holds us in its grip right to the bitter end, cleverly relying on aching physicality rather than arch dialog.
Unlike most period adaptations, this film is more about the dark emotions than sets and costumes. Arnold continually cuts to telling details -little annoyances, dark memories, confusing emotions - all of which get us deeply under the characters' skin. The whole film exists in the moment, so we sometimes have to guess what's happening in the plot. But this also makes it feel urgent and intensely intimate, capturing the mystery and grim beauty of Bronte's novel in a way we never thought we'd see on screen.
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