starring Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Solomon Glave, Nichola Burley
screenplay by Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed, based on the novel by Emily Brontë
directed by Andrea Arnold
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. The animalism, the absolute withering upheaval of the "feminized" Victorian-novel tradition, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights has long been one of my favourite books. What's never been properly captured in its myriad film adaptations is the earthiness that tethers its gothic, sometimes supernatural, trappings. Neither guilty pleasure nor bodice-ripper, it's a wallow, a traipse through high heather that only hides the wet suck of the moors, and damned if it doesn't, when all's said and done, project something like a masculine gaze in its positioning of brooding, demonic Heathcliff at its centre. It's a romance--a destructive, devouring romance constructed all of regrets and unconsummated desire; and Andrea Arnold's wise, visceral take on it is the underbelly of Jane Campion's brilliant Bright Star. Together, they would construct a poetic whole: the Romanticist yin of Bright Star to Wuthering Heights' roaring Victorian yang. Arnold's film is so good, in fact, that it clarifies how it is that Romanticism, through Victorianism, eventually becomes Emerson's Naturalism and then, ultimately, Modernism. It's a continuum, isn't it, and Wuthering Heights is the missing link in a very particular Darwin chart. The excitement of it for me is that it's an example, pure and new, that film at its best is poetry.