Andrea Arnold's retelling of Brontë’s novel lacks an emphasis on story
The director seems more concerned with paying homage to Robert Bresson and the Dardenne brothers than she is with telling a winning story. Her big, bold move is to make Heathcliff black. It doesn’t work. At no stage is race treated as anything other than a simple explanation as to why the white community tilling the land in the Yorkshire moors don’t like this potential suitor to Catherine.
In playing the race card Arnold really should have taken notes from Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven. Arnold employs different actors to play Heathcliff and Catherine when they are young (Shannon Beer and Solomon Glave) and old (Kaya Scodelario and James Howson). Arnold demands that the lines, whether delivered by professionals or non-actors, have a stilted quality delivered with no emotion. Stripping the story of romance and trying to make a statement about man and nature proves both pointless and self-defeating.
Selected release from Fri 11 Nov.