I have read Wuthering Heights numerous times for the past twenty years, always loved it, and was very excited about seeing Andrea Arnold's rendition of it, whose films I had just recently started to enjoy (Fishtank, Red Road). I could not have been more disappointed.
Leaving aside the utterly cheap attempt at originality by casting a black Heathcliff when Emily Bronte calls Heathcliff a "gypsy" numerous times throughout the book, the adult Heathcliff (James Howson) lacked entirely the animal power, intelligence and fierceness associated with the character as Cathy puts it in the novel: "he's a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man". Instead his performance was that of an effeminate, sullen, lifeless creature, whose attractive atributes remained thoroughly hidden.
His Catherine was in short, not Catherine,(Kaya Scodelario), and the only glimpse of that character to be seen was in the younger Cathy (Shannon Beer).
In Andrea Arnold's previous films I admired her vision of beauty in ordinary every day things, even the more gritty aspects of life, here however, the incessant rolling in dirt seen through the tiresomely shaking hand held camera effect is bound to wear one out sooner or later. If making a classical story more "contemporary" and "real" means endless, tedious images of filth and grime, not discussed in the original novel, please take me back to the more outdated approach, any day!
Another incredibly annoying aspect of the film is the butchering of the language, apparently still all in the cause of the contemporary crucade. The language of the book itself is simply so perfect and beautiful that all you have to do is preserve it in the scripts, somehow however screen writers and directors always think that they are going to "improve" it by cutting it backwards and forwards, and in the case of this film, adding dozens of f... words. The unique thing about "Wuthering Heights" is that it is "Wuthering Heights". If they really think they are making it "better" by these kind of absurdities, perhaps they need to find a different story to work with.
Lastly, when Emily Bronte called Heathcliff a gypsy, she meant a gypsy. With that connotation come all sorts of associations of wildness, sensuality, thievery, unreliability etc. which are relevant in the cultural context of the story as well as the painting of Heathcliff's character. When changed into a black person, the web of cultural associations as well as the underpinnings of the character change entirely and make Heathcliff into something which obviously Emily Bronte never intended. How about film makers try to trust that Emily Bronte knew her own mind and try for once to represent her will faithfully instead of boosting up their own egos with claims of so called originality and contemporary approach?
If you want to see a good rendering of Wuthering Heights, try rather the Ralph Fiennes version or the latest Tom Hardy, both of which infinately superior.