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Wuthering Heights


Stars: Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, James Howson, Kaya Scodelario, Nichola Burley, Steve Evets, Paul Hilton, Oliver Milburn, Amy Wren

Director: Andrea Arnold

It's Emily Bronte, Jim, but not as we know her. Appreciating how much Emily would have wanted to pepper her tale of oppression and repression with four-letter words in those restrictive 19th century days, director Arnold has redressed the balance in this revisionist version which might not have the author spinning in her premature grave, but would probably put her to sleep instead.

At any rate, Heathcliff - played at first by Glave, later by Howson - is now black (perhaps Arnold misunderstood when they told her the book was about the Yorkshire moor) and is plucked from the street to live in the household of God-fearing Earnshaw (Hilton) where he is treated like a lackey and beaten by all and sundry - but becomes soulmates with the family's youngest daughter Catherine (Beer).

There follows much mud, blood and rain - it's always pouring at the Earnshaw farm - coupled with lots of shots of local flora and fauna and some really dizzying handheld camerawork when Heathcliff and Cathy run across the windswept dales. There's also a fair bit of suggestive imagery involving moths drawn to flames and canaries trapped in cages - this last a reference to Cathy when she marries Edgar Linton (James Northcote) and goes to live on his country estate where it never rains at all.

Beer is endearing without being able to act, although to be fair none of the performances is up to much at all, and awkwardness with the dialogue is commonplace. The credits claim no animals were harmed, but some dogs were clearly traumatised in a manner that might well have animal rights people marching up and down outside the cinema.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention: this movie is sl-o-o-w.

David Quinlan

UK 2010. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour by deluxe.
128 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 07 Nov 2011