Wuthering Heights - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wuthering Heights Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2012
'Wuthering Heights'. Breathtaking natural imagery, sound and raw direction in a most enjoyable tragedy.

The juxtaposition of the microcosm of nature, with the insects, birds and dogs living their small lives against the grand hills and cavernous valleys throughout the seasons, is quite beautiful, and I've seen nothing like it. The haze and mist, bloom and barrenness, bright sun and heavy coat of snow. The life and death of everything in and around.

The world we're part of is equally small. One house in the middle of nowhere, and halfway through, another, a few miles away. Amidst all that beauty, nature can be harsh, much like humanity.

Heathcliff's rare moments of joy with Catherine are always bookended with misery, and the path of self-loathing he slides down isn't bested by his revenge against Hindley.

Did I mention the lack of score? Two sung ballads is all we get, and all we need. I didn't even notice it until close to the end, but the sound design is so damn good that the wind is overwhelming, as are the sounds of the home.
Super Reviewer
October 22, 2012
In "Wuthering Heights," Mr. Earnshaw(Paul Hilton) brings back an orphan boy(Solomon Glave) from his most recent trip who promptly gets spit in the eye by Earnshaw's young daughter Cathy(Shannon Beer). However, soon she warms to the boy, now named Heathcliff, comforting him after a baptism gone horribly awry. Earnshaw's teenaged son Hindley(Lee Shaw) hates Heathcliff and makes no bones about it. So his father sends him away for sensitivity training. After his father dies, Hindley returns with a young bride, Frances(Amy Wren), and a vengeance, banishing Heathcliff to the stables.

As far as "Wuthering Heights" goes, I read the novel a long time ago and have seen the 1939 and 1970 versions. So, I was curious what iconoclastic director Andrea Arnold would do with this venerable story and it's a mixed, interesting bag to say the least. Overall, with a reliance on handheld cameras and a lack of music until the very end, this actually feels like a documentary recording of life on the moors in the 19th century in all its beauty and ugliness. As far as the colorful metaphors in the movie go, Lenny Bruce did not invent them, just brought these old words to the surface. The most striking detail here are the early and sudden deaths that leave children no parents to guide them away from their juvenile cruelties. And while Earnshaw may be on the right side of the debate, he is vicious towards those who would cross him and no role model. Sadly, the movie fails to achieve relevance by not being able to connect the general inhumanity to slavery(is that a brand amongst the other scars on Heathcliff's back?), as it gets bogged down towards the end of each half(Kaya Scodelario and James Howson play the adult leads in the second half) that are barely connected, with the second half seeming much brighter, actually.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
May 17, 2013
"And those wuthering heights, in those wuthering hills, she was looking so right in her diamonds and frills!" Randomly thrown together, but still somewhat catchy song references aside, Emily Brontė's classic is back on the silver screen again, for, like, the 68th time, and people are still not seeing it, which would be more unfortunate if the people who missed this film didn't have the very good excuse that this film is boring. So, yeah, this is not quite as interesting as you would expect from an interpretation of "Wuthering Heights" that features some chick from "Skins" and a black guy as Heathcliff. Yeah, not much shuts a room up quite like changing the race of an iconic character (Good luck, Idris Elba), though it's not like this film is completely contradicting Brontė's vision, it's just getting carried away with its intrepeting her talking about Heathcliff's being "dark-skined" and whatnot, so here's to James Howson and his occasionally Obama-resembling self. Sure, Howson looks a little like Obama only at the splittest of seconds, and they're typically in when he loses the afro in real life, but the point is that he's still a reasonable casting choice if the filmmakers were really aiming to have Howson look like Obama, which would make sense, becuase the Heathcliff character is a gypsy and Obama rips people off about as much as a gypsy. I'd imagine quite a few of what handful of people who actually saw this film also got ripped off if they were walking in expecting a good film. I know my expectations got ripped off, as this film fell flat, and yet, it's not quite as messy as, well, Obama's administration, thanks to there also being some "heights" in quality (Get it?).

If nothing else can be complimented about this film, it's a certain thing that is also typically worthy of praise in other films this tediously arty, and that is, of course, cinematography, with is too gritty to be truly radiant, but is still strikingly handsome, with a distinctly bleak coloring that is backed by lighting that is still pretty pronounced, mostly in a way that gives you a flavorful feel for the environment's lighting, and often in a way that is just plain stunning. Robbie Ryan's photography is gorgeous, and I cannot take that away from this mess of a film, catching your eye even when the film itself is doing anything but catching your investment, like it should, considering the value of its subject matter. Emily Brontė's vision is tampered with quite a bit in this interpretation, so much so that there really is only so much story left in the final product, but only so much can be done to obscure the reasons why Brontė's story is celebrated as a classic, being a bit formulaic as a romantic drama for its time, but generally rich with intriguingly well-rounded depth that this film deserves to boast more of. Needless to say, if there is any intrigue in the film, then it comes from the sheer value of Brontė's original vision, no matter how much it has been thinned out with this interpretation, which will, in fact, occasionally take on inspiration in storytelling departments and give you a taste of engagement value, reinforced by a consistently commendable dramatic aspect. Acting isn't stellar in this dully underwritten film, but when material is finally granted to our performers, they deliver, with the fashionably late and beautiful, if sandwich-requiring Kaya Scodelario being occasionally effective as a woman caught between a loving husband and another man who she loves, while leads Solomon Glave and the late-to-arrive James Howson particularly convince in their portrayals of the Heathcliff character, a misunderstood and mistretes individual who grows from a confused stranger in an Englishman's world into a somewhat bitter, maybe even unpredictable man who returns to a long-lost love with a broken heart. There may be only so many of them, but there are strengths in this film, and they, coupled with the film's not necessarily being incompetent, help greatly in saving the film from slipping into contempt, being genuinely memorable within this generally forgettable and misguided mess of its own design. That being said, while the film is strong in a few places, and with shortcomings that aren't necessarily a reflection of incompetence, what this film chooses to ultimately be is challenging, and not in a good way, actively making driving decisions that are nothing if not questionable.

If you're wondering how an interpretation of this classically compelling story that is not incompetent could stand a chance of plummeting into mediocrity, where this film could have stayed faithful to the focus and traditional structure of its source material, it ultimately chooses to go the more offbeat path of interpreting Emily Brontė's story in a naturalist fashion that thins out plotting structure, silences music "entirely" until the credits (Man, there's no escaping Mumford & Sons), and dries up atmosphere so much that its visual equivalent would crust over, while meditating upon nothing but life simply being lived, and such a storytelling method would be more commendable, or rather, commendable at all if it even tried to meditate not just on its characters' lifestyle, but its characters' depth. I wish I could say that there is some genuine meat to expository depth, but really, there is no real development to characters in this character study, which is kept from being totally ineffective by inspiration within the characters' portrayers, but thins out exposition to where immediate development is completely absent, while the succeeding body, which takes all the time in the world meditating upon filler, neglects to meditate upon progression, so much so that years upon years within this story's conceptually lengthy timeline slip by in unnoticeable instances that tell you nothing about the should-be crucial changes within our characters and their story. As much as this film does little outside of intensely focus upon people going about their dramatic lives, you don't really get a feel for dramatic depth, because nothing that is more than superficial in every sense of the word is really said about this opus, and if that sounds disengaging enough, just wait until you hear about the aspects in this film's "plotting" that are anything but too tight. As if it's not bad enough that this film does little, if anything to flesh-out true substance, it has to add insult to injury by bloating the filler that should be at a minimum in a charater study this conceptually extensive, but ends up practically driving the final product, which bloats itself with blandly excessive material that, before too long, devolves into repetition, then into monotony. On paper, of course, this film's plot flows along just fine, with rises and falls that any focused character drama should have, but in this particular execution of Brontė's vision, exposition is so thinned out, and filler is so overblown, that final product feels, not simply aimless, but more or less plotless, and such aimlessness in "plotting" would be easier to forgive if directorial atmosphere wasn't dried up to the point of igniting severe dullness that almost amazingly never, ever, ever, ever dissipates. Like I said, there are glimpses of intrigue, but on the whole, the film is so boring that you almost get a sense that director Andrea Arnold is just messing with you, and it doesn't help that Arnold makes sure that what tone there is in the final product comes tainted with some form of self-congradualatory pretense that, when truly pronounced, is frustrating to the point of almost destroying the film. Thankfully, the film is simply too bland to be bad, but wow, it comes so close to collapsing into contempt that it's not even funny, for although the film could be worse, and would have been if it wasn't for its conceptual value and lack of traditional incompetence, it is a challenging misfire that sometimes frustrated, often disengages and always bores.

In conclusion, Robbie Ryan delivers on gorgeous cinematography, while somewhat effective occasions and pretty good acting stand to remind you of the dramatic value within Emily Brontė's classic story concept, and such commendable notes join blandness' watering down things too much for disdain to consistently ensue in keeping the final product from slipping into contempt, which still comes close to claiming this misfire of a naturalist re-imagining of a should-be meaty drama, whose development is thinned out into disengaging dissipation, while aimless filler is bloated into plotless monotony, made all the more frustrating by ceaseless dullness that is itself made all the more frustrating by pretense, which isn't overbearing to the point of consistently earning your disdain, but certainly helps in making Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights" a near-tedious bore that may not be downright bad, but comes heartstoppingly close.

2/5 - Weak
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2011
A bold, passionate and vivid version of the much adapted Emily Bronte novel that dispenses much of the dialogue instead to concentration very much on the harsh weather, unforgiving Yorkshire moors, clashes of nature and passionate looks between Heathcliff and Cathy. The second half loses a little focus in places and though the elder actors are impressive it's the young versions of the doomed characters, played by Solomon Glave and Shannon Beer that really stand out. Beautifully shot, screened in the underused 4:3 ratio (which director Andrea Arnold also favoured for her earlier Fish Tank), this is an astonishingly new take on a text that had long before been banished to cliched, dusty and over-costumed films.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2012
The first half of this film is just wonderful. The two unknown actors who play a young Heathcliff and young Catherine are fantastic and Andrea Arnold brings out the best performance of the whole film from the cold, stinging Yorkshire landscape. With shoestring dialogue and delicate camera work and the howl of wind replacing any soundtrack it is a raw, haunting piece. It is not an adaptation of the book, but a total re-write; it gives a classic story a rare shock of new.
Unfortunately the second half of the film turned my amazement into frustration. When dialogue stepped up more, the two actors replaced by the older and less effective ones and the Yorkshire moors gets shoved aside by a dull period manor house. I spent most of this half just thinking about the themes explored in the first hour.
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2011
For a film that is purely and only about sex and passion, this take on the story relies too much on conceptual imagery and symbolism too touch me. I found the craftsmanship behind the film very appealing but the characters did not manage to break out of the very restrained directorial handwriting of this movie and as such, I felt more like observing the unfolding of a natural disaster than the fate of human beings. Of course, a film or literary critic might argue that this is exactly what the book tries to express in the first place, the inevitability and impact of unfulfilled love and desire in times of social restraints and racial hatred, but I think with my heart, not my head and this film is too much 'film' and not enough 'life' to appeal to me. I;d rather take the story at face value and see it as a powerful and very basic drama of human needs than a philosophical pondering on impossible love. Not for me, but some people will love this.
½ October 21, 2015
This version of Wuthering Heights reminds me of the MTV flick of the same name
only in that both have nothing to do with Wuthering Heights.
June 2, 2015
In what must have been the most difficult film set in the world, Arnold has not only succeeded getting through all that mud but she has also brought classic back to a story that has already seen its fair share of screen adaptations. Bronte would have been proud, this seems rightly real and brutal. It is also definitely a bonus to finally see a director casting non-Caucasian actors to play Heathcliff! That only took dozens of years... Warning: very little dialogue and striking atmospheric visual storytelling may displease slaves to the Hollywood movie machine.
½ February 1, 2015
Missing the second generation story once again, this 2011 adaptation of Wuthering Heights is admirable in the art department and is boldly unique to a tremendous fault
½ January 14, 2015
meh. good maybe if you've read it or something. beautiful cinematography. terrible... er, script? was there a script?
I'd say if you're interested in a mashup of Tarkovsky, The Lord of the Rings, and National Geographic then this is the movie for you.
½ January 2, 2013
I could go either way in excusing the flaws of Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights", praising its unquestionable visual beauty and ubiquity while ignoring the weirdness and inconsistency of the ultimate work. In a day when every third movie out there is a remake of '70s horror or a grim imagining of a campfire fairy tale, Arnold updates the 1847 Gothic novel by Emily Bronte -- sister of Charlotte, and her only published labor -- with a messy rawness and passion for bygone idyllic charms, which she meets with a neoteric sexual soul, one stuffed with bleak and haunted images that do nothing short of stir.
½ October 6, 2013
Didn't realize how F-ed up Heathcliff and Cathy are from the Olivier version. Beautifully, starkly filmed, but the minimal dialogue works against the movie, making the main characters uninteresting for the majority of the movie. I think it's a brilliant deconstruction of a "love story." These characters proclaim their love for each other, but they are too selfish to truly love each other. Unfortunately it all unfolds quite dully. The adult actors were solid, but I thought the younger actors were the standouts. I must say the photography was very sensually filmed; unfortunately the minimalist approach is taken too far and works against creating interesting characters.
½ August 27, 2013
Wuthering Heights includes a lack of any of the unique supernatural themes of the novel, thus creating another romance period movie that has nothing to separate it from the others, or make it remotely interesting. Just an utter bore.
May 5, 2013
Arnold's take on Bronte's classic. romantic, heartbreaking epic tale, Wuthering Heights, is raw, gritty, unconventional, and re-inventive. It is definitely a gloomy and rather melancholic approach to the exploration of the story, but for those who aren't bothered by a minimalistic sensual direction; then the lack of dialogue and music, will bring to life the classic tale of passion and revenge on a much more personal level.
June 12, 2013
I'd give it a negative rating but that's not possible. I've seen much better versions and of course nothing compares to reading the book.
½ December 15, 2011
Between a 6/10 and 7/10, most of what's here is interesting enough to be valuable on its own right without quite managing to be "good".
May 13, 2013
Have you ever seen so much rain in one movie? Director Andrea Arnold's (Red Road, Fish Tank) impressionistic take on Emilty Bronte's 1847 novel is mostly just that: a failed impression. Arnold and her cinematographer Robbie Ryan shot in natural light, but there's no artfulness, only murkiness. It doesn't help that we constantly, and I mean constantly, can hear the rustling winds. So much wind. The novel was a Gothic classic, this latest adaptation is just dour. There's no poetry, no passion to the proceedings, not even with the rawness of non-professional actors. A huge dud.
½ October 16, 2012
This is a Wuthering Heights to watch more so than to listen to as it is lite on dialogue and heavy on mood and imagery. Based on Emily Bronte's classic gothic tale of love lost and revenge, it is an interesting re-telling nonetheless with the questionable casting of central character, Heathcliffe (whom I've always read as a Roma gypsy). Cathy and Heathcliffe bond as non-traditional step-siblings much to the dismay of Cathy's real brother who despises Heathcliffe. Things become even worse when Cathy comes of marrying age and finds some sense of happiness in the landed nobility of the region ... much to Heathcliffe's dismay. The story is all here and it can be a trying watch as there is scarce dialogue; but knowing the story helped. I don't think this will be a version for anybody who does not know the book well.
½ October 14, 2012
An almost impressionistic "shaky-cam" version of the classic tale from Heathcliff's point of view. It takes a while to adjust to the style, and it could definitely have benefited from some trimming. but, even without knowing the story, I was able to follow it and was generally engaged.
October 6, 2012
Effectively taps the cruelty and pagan energy of the novel, though I'm pretty sure there weren't any racist skinheads in 18th century Yorkshire. The kids smolder more convincingly than the adults.
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