Wednesday, December 12, 2012

“Wuthering Heights”: Weary, Stale, Flat and Unprofitable

When the movie remake of a classic love story makes you think of Barack Obama, and that’s the best thing you can say about it, that’s probably not a good thing.

Such was the case tonight with me and “Wuthering Heights,” the recent version with James Howson and Solomon Glave, two English actors of African descent, as the old and young Heathcliff.

Problems begin with director Andrea Arnold’s attempt to turn a classic work of literature into a virtually silent film. The few bits of dialog are in a heavy Yorkshire accent that was all but indecipherable to me; the filming meanwhile is dark and expressionistic, with lots of feathers and fluff and suffering animals. Oh, and rain, lots of rain.

But I just couldn’t help thinking of Barack Obama because, through no fault of either Howson or Glave, Heathcliff just isn’t that interesting. He’s portrayed as a stowaway found at Liverpool, possibly a former slave (he has lash welts on his back), and of course we are supposed to care about him because of this, because he is already a victim before the story gets rolling, and because it’s just what a good liberal moviegoer should do. But I didn’t.

And I began thinking, asking myself why, after all the pre-2009 hype about hope and new beginnings, I find Obama such a weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable figure. I mean, I’m proud that our country reached over the color line for its president, and he sure looked exciting in the run-up to November 2008. But now, he just looks tired—about the way Howson looked after Catherine Earnshaw died and he had slit another animal open and the fourteenth rainstorm had passed over the moors.

I just didn’t care, and didn’t even feel guilty about it. Avoid.

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