Greetings again from the darkness. Since 1920, there have been between 8-15 film versions of the classic Emily Bronte novel, depending how many TV versions you include. The most famous is William Wyler‘s 1939 version featuring Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon. This latest adaptation from director Andrea Arnold bears little resemblance to Wyler’s version, and will probably be quite different than any interpretation you have seen or imagined.
Ms. Arnold is an Oscar winner for her 2003 short film Wasp and is also known for her critically acclaimed 2009 film Fish Tank. Clearly, she has set the stage for a somewhat darker view of what, at its core, is a very dark novel from Ms. Bronte. That said, the minimalistic take is even darker, foggier, rainier, slower and quieter than anticipated. If Terrence Malick films move too quickly for you, then you will find this pace acceptable. Also, very little dialogue is used and no musical score. The camera work is artsy, alternating between sweeping nature shots (feathers, bugs, rain and fog) and claustrophobic scenes within the titular Earnshaw home.
Three of the four main characters are played by first time film actors. Heathcliff is played by James Howson and a young Soloman Glave. Catherine is played by young Shannon Beer and Kaya Scodelario (Eve from Moon). While this minimalistic approach may look technically beautiful, it also prevents the viewer from making any real connection to the characters … not usually a good thing, even for a tragic love story.
Film students and those who enjoy experimental filmmaking may find the most enjoyment in this version. Those who love the classic Bronte novel may struggle to connect with the vision of Ms. Arnold.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you never miss a movie version of Bronte’s novel OR you subscribe to the filmmaking theory of less is more.
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you like to connect to characters OR traditional filmmaking is just fine for your tastes.
watch the trailer: