the young Heathcliff and Cathy in a
good-looking but boring new take on
"Wuthering Heights" © 2010 Oscilloscope
(Reviewed October 5, 2012, by James Dawson)
Good looking but as boring as a 128-minute Terrence Malick perfume commercial, this minimalist take on the first half of the Emily Brontë novel is so slow I'm falling asleep just writing about it. Beautiful locations and cinematography aren't enough to make up for lifeless acting that mostly consists of meaningful stares. Like Heathcliff, you may find yourself wanting to pound your head into a couple of walls and a door frame in frustration.
Solomon Glave is brooding and blankly impassive as the young Heathcliff (who is black here, and described as a "dark-skinned gipsy" in the book). Shannon Beer is a doughy teenage Cathy, the one bright spot in Heathcliff's miserable life when he is brought to live with her family at their farmhouse. Heathcliff runs away when Cathy reveals she will marry a man of higher social status, but returns a few years later because of his overwhelming stalker-like obsession.
While the actor who plays the older Heathcliff (James Howson) bears an acceptable resemblance to his younger counterpart, the older Cathy (Kaya Scodelario) is a small-framed beauty who looks ridiculously unlike the stockier and facially dissimilar Beer. The demeanor and poise of the two actresses also is different enough to seem jarringly inconsistent. Todd Solondz got away with that kind of thing for unsettling comedic effect in "Palindromes," but here it just seems strange.
Director/co-screenwriter Andrea Arnold ("Fish Tank") stays faithful to the bones of the book while telling the story almost entirely from Heathcliff's point of view and giving the character remarkably little dialog. The movie also has no music score, relying entirely on human voices and natural sound.
It's too bad that a movie this visually appealing is such a tediously uninvolving snooze.
Back Row Reviews Grade: C-