No starched lace, no panoramic views, no sweeping score — Andrea Arnold takes Emily Brontë’s classic novel and strips it to the root of youthful passion, restoring its stark power for a contemporary audience. Following her bracing portraits of female desire in Red Road and Fish Tank, Arnold pushes even further here, portraying love as a rush of heart-stopping beauty, cruelty and impulsive acts.
In a remote farmhouse on Yorkshire’s nineteenth-century moors, Mr. Earnshaw brings home a wary biracial boy, whom he names Heathcliff. Adopted into the family under Christian values, Heathcliff’s new presence is met with mixed feelings. Hindley, Earnshaw’s teenaged son, treats him with contempt, while Catherine, Hindley’s younger sister, embraces the outsider with curious warmth. An intense relationship begins to form between Heathcliff and Catherine as they play on the moor. Their pleasant days are brought to an abrupt end, however, with Mr. Earnshaw’s death. Hindley takes control of the farm and drives Heathcliff away. Edgar, the son of a wealthy neighbouring family, courts Catherine in marriage. Torn between love and reason, Catherine’s decision sets the three of them on a tragic course.
Avoiding the typical pleasantries of period romance, Arnold’s Wuthering Heights uses natural sounds in place of a score, emphasizing the rhythms of wind, voices and silence. Arnold places Catherine and Heathcliff within a specific and sometimes harsh environment; the effect is to bring Brontë’s characters closer to nature. Handheld camera work captures every look and touch exchanged between the passionate young lovers, swaying and darting into the wet black mud one minute, carried aloft with a bird the next.
Arnold’s two previous features established her as a remarkable new voice in cinema, a filmmaker unwilling to lean on clichés about love, insisting instead on a brutal version of truth. By cutting Brontë’s novel back to its essence of longing and injustice, she revives the story for a contemporary audience. –TIFF
Andrea Arnold (born April 5, 1969) is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and former actress from England, who made her feature length directorial debut in 2006 with Red Road.
Arnold first came to prominence as an actress and television presenter alongside Sandi Toksvig, Nick Staverson and Neil Buchanan in the 1980s children’s television show No. 73. This Saturday morning show on ITV, in which she played Dawn Lodge, had a similar premise to that of The Kumars at No. 42 in the way that the show was part sitcom, part chat show and based at a domestic residence. In addition to these parts, the show had the usual mix of music, competitions and cartoons (such as Roger Ramjet) that was in keeping to the formula of British Saturday morning children’s TV of the 1980s.
In 1988 No. 73 had morphed into 7T3, with the set being moved from the Maidstone house (in fact in TVS studios in Kent) to that of a theme park. This revamp would only last the season, but Andrea would be… read more
Arnold’s earthy adaptation is drawing comparisons to Andrew Kötting and Shohei Imamura.
Silver Lion for Cai Shangjun (People Mountain People Sea). Acting awards for Michael Fassbender and Deanie Ip.
“A beautiful rough beast of a movie,” find most critics so far, though some do have their reservations.
Wuthering Heights (2011)
Andrea Arnold directed and with Olivia Hetreed wrote the screenplay for this iteration of the Emily Brontë novel what has seen many screen adaptations… read review
The period setting may be a centuries leap back into a different world for Arnold, but her stamp visibly remains over this, in its roughened handheld and dingy photography, as well as essentially the… read review
Andrea Arnold has carved out a promising career as a director of visceral, earthy dramas, including Red Road and Fish Tank. For her third film she has chosen to adapt the classic Emily Bronte novel… read review