Wuthering Heights Reviews
Being serious now, I'll begin with the most typical concerns regarding this film (and these kind of film projects in general), I'll proceed with why this is definitely among the Top 5 masterpieces of 2011, and conclude with a fair statement.
The complaints I hear are strikingly similar to those against Carlos Reygadas:
- "The shaky camera bothers me." --> Such minimalist tone works for some and upsets others. Given the context of the film, I think it works wonderfully. The cinematography is otherwordly and I think it perfectly suits the cold tone of the movie and the time and space in which the story is set.
- "Animal cruelty is revolting." --> As stated in the final credits: "No animals were harmed as a result of their participation in this production." Terrific work they did bringing along realistic effects, huh? Animal trainers exist so that dogs are not harmed while being hanged in a particular way, before you bring that up. Also, you cannot prove that the duck's feathers were actually being taken off.
- "There are absolutely zero likeable characters." --> My response here depends. If you are expecting characters to appeal to your perception of humanity or to your personality traits, that's the most arrogant statement you can make filmwise. If you are saying this because you find trouble empathizing with the characters and thus feel alienated from them, then that's understandable. I'll elaborate on this.
- "There are far way better adaptations out there, and more faithful to the original novel." --> If I have to spell you out the basics of how there exists artistic freedom in the process of film adaptation, and how literature and cinema are meant to be taken as separate media, you should go back to primary school and therefore do not belong to any film-reviewing site, with all due respect.
- "The film is too slow." --> Welcome to independent cinema.
- "I was expecting more emotional involvement, and more romance." --> If you go to see a film expecting to see something specific, you should never watch a film again. However, I would recommend William Wyler's excellent classic.
Andrea Arnold, just like Breillat, Bigelow, Ramsay, Campion, and other challenging names, upsets the majority of the male audiences and pleases the majority of the female audiences (hmmm... interesting) with an hypnotic journey full of rotten characters towards which we were not meant to empathize with. With none of their life contexts provided, we see foul-mouthed people and a revolting act after another. Such sequence of events and psychological profiles are most probably meant not to lead to anything good, and as expected, such is the outcome: resentment, passion, revenge and tragedy. Would Brontë accept this alternate take? I actually think she would!
Like the snowy landscapes, like the pouring rain, the film is desolate, intentionally alienating, and has "veins of ice", as stated in the film to one of the characters. The only sign of purity seems to be Nature itself with its wonderful and colorful features being displayed with an attention to detail worthy of Terrence Malick while we see characters devoid from civilization being subject to either internal or external demons and fighting against them. Perhaps Andrea's directing decisions came out from the fact that this is a popular story known by masses, and therefore used such prior knowledge to gain more artistic freedom, and the result is bold and engrossing. She created an absorbing microcosm of a rural 19th-Century England.
Like Chaplin said once: "People think too much and feel too little." There's much more to feel in a film than character development!
Kaya Scodelario is OK as (the older) Cathy but James Howson is unconvincing as (older) Heathcliff and contributes greatly to the dullness of the movie.
And, hey, where was the Kate Bush soundtrack?