Wednesday, September 7, 2011

VENICE: "Wuthering Heights" Reactions

To tell the truth, I very nearly forgot that Venezia 68 was still going on, seeing as things seemed to drop off after Labor Day. I almost forgot to comment on "Wuthering Heights" from Andrea Arnold, who is very much responsible for one of the more life-altering films I've seen in a while, "Fish Tank". Like many others, I feared she was going to tread safer territory by taking on Emily Bronte's classic novel, but reviews clearly debunk any such worries. Arnold is still in top form, which simply makes me want to see this film all the more immediately. Is it still a strong player for the Golden Lion? I'd say so, seeing as Darren Aronofsky is heading the jury, and who's to say what he's liable to choose?

Neil Young (Hollywood Reporter): "Performances are blunt and unmannered. Top-billed Kaya Scodelario plays the adult Cathy with only the occasional linguistic anachronism jarring on the ear. These minor flubs are outweighed by the impact of the plausibly unadorned, sometimes vicious language used by what are essentially uneducated working-class farmers. This includes several four-letter outbursts and a smattering of uses (by Hindley) of the N-word towards Heathcliff – Glave and Howson are both black, a pioneering bit of casting from Arnold. Heathcliff is described in the book as “dark”, “gipsy” and looking like a “Lascar” from southern Asia, but has always been previously played by Caucasians."

Guy Lodge (In Contention; ***1/2): "Like most previous screen versions, Arnold and co-writer Olivia Hetreed have taken on only the irresistibly full arc of the novel’s first half, but have zeroed in more emphatically on the class tensions and familial cracks that both enable and cripple Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship. Arnold’s simplest and most successful amendment is the introduction of a black Heathcliff (played at different ages by Solomon Glave and James Howson), a stroke that places the social landscape of Brontë’s story in starker relief, and adds an extra layer of rancour to the abuse the character endures at the hands of Catherine’s seethingly inarticulate brother Hindley (Lee Shaw)."

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