Directed by Andrea Arnold (U.K.)
Andrea Arnold’s take-no-prisoners adaptation of the Emily Brontë classic is sure to divide audiences and critics. Set against an intimidating backdrop of bleak moorland, muddy yard and barren house of cold stone and creaking wood, it argues the novel’s chief theme is the way cruelty is handed down from one generation to the next. It includes hand-held camera work, a halting pace, scant dialogue, regular expletives, one scene of animalistic sex and several of animals being killed, and features neophyte actors playing the young Catherine and both versions of Heathcliff, who is black. Its singular and unflinching vision is always admirable and often breathtaking. Unfortunately, the film fails in its second half where a bland Catherine (Kaya Scodelario) and a blank Heathcliff (James Howson) never ignite the passion that should be the counterweight to all that pain.