Following on from 2009’s gritty Fish Tank, director Andrea Arnold brings us her adaptation of Emily Bronte’s literary classic, Wuthering Heights: a passionate story of doomed love on the Yorkshire moors. Arnold’s take on the tale is unique: here we have a black Heathcliff, played by actors James Howson and Solomon Glave, and Arnold has employed a style not normally associated with period drama: handheld camera, 4:3 aspect ratio, minimal dialogue, and a pared-back soundtrack consisting only of sound effects.
It’s a bold attempt, but ultimately an unsuccessful one. Far too much screen time is devoted to the early years of Heathcliff and Catherine, leaving the later developments feeling rushed and not fully fleshed out. With the clear exception of Shannon Beer as the young Catherine, most of the actors are no match for Bronte’s characters, and the smaller aspect ratio does no justice to the sweeping landscape of the moors. No doubt such epic material would present a challenge to even the most seasoned of filmmakers, and on this occasion it has gotten the better of Andrea Arnold. (KSo) **