Wuthering Heights

Last time we saw director Andrea Arnold on TANKtv, it was with Fish Tank – her contemporary classic of forbidden love on an East London council estate.

In Wuthering Heights, she brings all her frank immediacy and crackling sensivity to bear on unexpected source material: Emily Brontë's 1847 decade-spanning novel set on the Yorkshire moors.

Whether you've read, studied, or wilfully avoided Brontë's novel, Arnold’s adaptation hits you with the bracing shock of the new.

With a welcome lack of reverence, Arnold plunges us into an intensely tactile world peopled with correspondingly intense characters. Keeping her camera intimate and restless, she tells her story in a gripping cinematic present tense. 

Heathcliff is an orphan found on the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, who brings him back to live at Wuthering Heights, his home on the moors.

While Heathcliff soon becomes inseparable from the young Cathy Earnshaw, other members of the family are less amenable to his perceived intrusion – and his ethnicity.

The film follows Cathy and Heathcliff’s ardent and fractious relationship over the course of years against the gaunt, rain-lashed landscapes of the moors. 

They are at odds with the conventions and moralities of their time, but also their own hot-blooded selves. Among wild animals and wild weather, this is a battle of animal instincts and desperate convictions, which has little regard for socialised manners or urban neuroses. 

Filmed in an unusually restricted, tightly focussed 1.37:1 aspect ratio, Arnold all but forces us to see the intimate and vital life in this hard-worn narrative.

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