Forget everything you remember of Emily Brontë’s novel—or for that matter, the cozy act of thumbing through a book (or tablet) at all. Andrea Arnold, a filmmaker who’s sensitive to temperature and turf, grabs you first with the weather. Ice-cold wind whips your bones in a twilight of dank, swaying weeds. This is Yorkshire, and you feel the northernness of it: the fierce chill of being alive and outside. Hard-headed beetles scrabble along the grass; birds caw desperately. There’s no one around for miles. Out of this beautifully rendered mood comes Brontë’s classic tale of long-thwarted romance, and if Arnold does nothing else, she clarifies the nature of that lasting love, one that emerges out of an ache but also a need to be warm, to gather around a glow.
In those golden, fire-lit interiors, Wuthering Heights loses a bit of its urgency, even during an act of sexualized blood-licking that should be a lot hotter. Still, Arnold’s vibrant, Malickian adaptation has another bold stroke worth mentioning: Heathcliff, a Gypsy in the original text, is now an Afro-Caribbean former slave, initially a bruised teen (Glave) and then an unusual, self-made man (Howson). His affair with Catherine (the vulnerable Beer) becomes supercharged with danger. Sticklers might call the racial component a distraction, but you have to salute this director’s vision, which shakes up the story with determination. This weird, yearning movie could become beloved to many, just as the novel has been.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
|Release date:||Friday October 5 2012|