After a long and winding journey, British director Andrea Arnold‘s film of Wuthering Heights finally premiered at the Venice Film Festival yesterday. Reactions were mixed as were the perceptions of those reactions. The UK’s Independent claims it was “met with befuddlement from the press,” while the Guardian reports that “critics lined up to praise the film’s radical disregard for the usual conventions of the costume drama.”

It may be “Bella & Edward’s favorite book” as the HarperTeen edition at left reminds readers, but it’s doubtful they would embrace this adaptation, which, says The Guardian, has “completely deprived the story of any romance.” The Independent describes it derisively as “a defiantly art-house adaptation…from the school of Robert Bresson rather than Merchant Ivory.”

Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff, a “dark-skinned gypsy” has been transformed into a runaway slave rescued from the Liverpool streets in this version which stars mostly unknown actors, a far cry from where it began. At one point, Lindsay Lohan and Keira Knightley were reported to be “battling” for the role of Catherine. Natalie Portman eventually won, only to turn around and drop out.

Clips are available on YouTube. One of the scenes might be considered Not Safe for Work, if it weren’t so difficult to see due to the jerkiness of the hand-held camera and reliance on natural lighting.

The film has not been scheduled for a U.S. release.

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