Sundance write-up. This IS a rough one to sit through- The lingering shots of bugs & mud started to get on my nerves and Its very difficult to understand what the actors are saying half the time due to a combination of mumbling & whispering on top of the thick accents.
I AM an Andrea Arnold defender and there are a few things in this film that I liked. I did enjoy the cinematography overall (but after a while it starts to get a little droning and painful...I mean CUT already). If Arnold wanted to make a book of images & stills from this film and put it out I'd buy it without question. Somehow they managed to make depressing shit like endless rain, grey weather and heavy fog look beautiful...
On the other hand, the cinematography may make some dizzy after a while. The camera work is a little too free sometimes and you could get lost.
This adaptation of Wuthering Heights had..."something". Like, there was an honest attempt at trying to do something different but there was too much emphasis on the atmosphere, ambiance and "look" of the film and not enough attention to anything else. Behind all that thick fog is a pretty empty film.
There's something attractive and fascinating about this film’s cold, isolated, up-close & personal feel that I can’t completely put in to words. You just kinda have to see it to get what I mean. The sound of the wind that’s present through most of the film along with all the shots of the foggy mountains reminded me Valhalla Rising (minus the violence) and I like that kind of atmosphere a lot these days. For further examples check out; The Spirit Of The Beehive, The Nest, la Cienaga, Solaris (specifically the first 10-15 minutes), Japon or Once Upon A Time In Anatolia. The only difference is that these films pull that style off much better than Wuthering Heights. It’s more of a personal preference and I wouldn’t waste my time trying to defend it. I understand if people don’t like that stuff. Unfortunately cinematography and atmosphere is about all I can come up with in terms of things that I really liked about the film (and that’s still not enough). There aren’t any standout performances and there doesn’t seem to be much of a traditional script to comment on. Sure the young Heathcliff & Catherine do an ok job of expressing their fascination and love for one another, but then other times they have no chemistry at all (we all know that chemistry between actors is KEY in a film that doesn’t have a lot of dialogue). I guess if you haven’t figured it out by now - approach this film with caution.
Uncle Boonmee, Black Venus, Tree Of Life, Post Tenebras Lux, Road To Nowhere, To The Wonder (which will probably split humanity right down the middle just like Tree Of Life did), etc. Even early "best of the decade" candidates like Once Upon A Time In Anatolia have drawn some serious haters. Just like Wuthering Heights, all these films could easily be described as tough or difficult to sit through yet they have "something". They bring out emotions in people (even if its intense hatred). These films have the same amount of haters as they do fans and both sides have valid arguments that make for endless debate & conversation. That’s a good thing as far as I'm concerned. I've had more fun writing about and discussing recent films I don’t like (Road To Nowhere) or am conflicted about (Tree Of Life & Wuthering Heights) than I do recent films I love unconditionally. It feels like I’ve either written about or mentioned the Tree Of Life on PINNLAND EMPIRE more than any other film in the last year and a half. It makes me wish certain directors, which could be described as "tough" or "challenging" like David Lynch, Lodge Kerrigan, the old Lynne Ramsay or the 2002-2007 Gus Van Sant were present right now.
In closing, I'll say it once again - approach Wuthering Heights, which opens at the film forum on Friday, with caution.