Wuthering Heights (2011)

Starring: Shannon Beer, Kaya Scodelario, Solomon Glave, James Howson, Nichola Burley, James Northcote, Simone Jackson

Directed by: Andrea Arnold

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Solomon Glave and Shannon Beer as young Heathcliff and Cathy in Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights

What do you get if you take all the nice bits our of Wuthering Heights and leave only the nastiness? You get this searing but harsh adaptation by Scottish director Andrea Arnold.

Never before have the wild and windy moors seemed quite so grim and inhospitable. The Heights itself is knee-deep in mud outside, grimy and dimly lit inside, the Earnshaws struggling farming gentry who eke out a living from the land in miserable conditions. Small wonder, then, that, surrounded by the brutal indifference of nature and the casual unkindness of the adult world, daughter Cathy (Shannon Beer/Kaya Scodelario) and foundling Heathcliff (Solomon Glave/James Howson) grow up to be, well, rather horrible people, both as selfish, cruel, manipulative and melodramatic as the other, soul mates indeed, bound together by a love that's so natural and deep-seated they take it for granted, squander it.

Small wonder, too, that a teenage Cathy is drawn to the warm candlelight and pretty gardens of Thurshcross Grange and agrees to marry its so and heir, Edgar Linton, although by betraying Heathcliff, she betrays herself.

Yet, with the dialogue stripped to the bare minimum, replaced by thematic images of delicate feathers, muscular horses and helpless dead animals, her famous line about Heathcliff being more herself than she is is almost lost in a torrential downpour as he storms out of the house.

So, a great achievement, a truly innovative, gripping adaptation that stamps bonnets and bodices into the mire and gets right to the raw, bleeding heart of Emily Brontë's novel. Yet I'm not sure I entirely liked it. Without the redemption of the second act of the book, which the film misses out, ending instead shortly after Cathy's death, the story is unbalanced, slightly unsatisfactory, even.

As the poster proclaims, 'love is a force of nature' – and how true that is. Love here is raw, elemental, uncaring, unforgiving as a storm. What's missing is the calm afterwards, the gentle healing rain.

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