Friday, October 5, 2012

True Love

Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights is making the rounds on American film websites, which reminds me: I cannot believe I haven't even mentioned this adaptation here. Also: I can't believe I still haven't read Wuthering Heights in original.

Wuthering Heights means quite a lot to me as it is the first book I picked up from my parents' book shelves and read and enjoyed after four years of not reading, of dreading any reading assignments. Although I didn't start devouring books immediately after having read Wuthering Heights, it certainly opened up my appetite for reading smth else besides silly magazines.

Until this year I have successfully avoided any movie adaptations, but Andrea Arnold's sounded too interesting to ignore. I loved her emphasis on the visual, her raw aesthetic. In this case, I wasn't interested in the narrative because I already knew the story. What I expect from a movie adaptation is a visual enhancement of that story that I already know. Unfortunately, I can't really say I love Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights in its entirety. There's one scene that kinda ruined the whole movie for me. I don't even think that scene is in the book, I certainly don't remember it being in the book. Whether or not that particular scene is in the book is not the problem, though. At first, I wasn't even sure that what I thought I saw was exactly what I thought I saw. But I googled it, and others have seen the same thing. So um yeah: spoiler! I'm talking, obviously, about the necrophilia scene. Necrophilia is so wrong that I don't even like it in my fiction. Well... except for vampire stories - loving the undead and all that. Certainly, you can talk about a necrophiliac aspect when it comes to Heathcliff's obsession with Catherine long after her death, his seeing her ghost. But to take that in the most literal sense goes a little beyond my limits.

Besides the aesthetic, and besides the fact that Arnold didn't play the Hollywood whitewashing game, one other reason for which I was looking forward to seeing this adaptation of Wuthering Heights was the beautiful Kaya Scodelario. I was curious to see if and how she could embody a character other than the now iconic Effy. There are actors who play a character so well that their careers will forever remain defined by that one character. Luckily, that won't be the case with Kaya Scodelario. Playing a classic role was a smart move on her part.

Kaya Scodelario as Catherine in Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, 2011)

Heathcliff: "My plan was to see your face [...]"

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More recently, I've seen Kaya Scodelario in the third episode of True Love, in which she plays Karen, a high school student who falls for her teacher, Holly, played by Billie Piper. (Can't believe I'm old enough to remember Billie Piper's music beginnings!) Though poorly, I've explained before my stand on student-teacher love relationships in fiction vs. IRL. The cheapness of this cliché is emphasized when it's used in literature, but for some reason, it doesn't bother me at all when used in tv series or movies. This episode of True Love is probably the first scenario of this type - that I've ever seen - in which the nature of the relationship is not straight. I don't know why I find that surprising, though. It's a shame the episodes of this series are so short. Things feel a little rushed. The way this script is written, I don't quite understand why Holly would fall for Karen. Genuinely fall for her. Holly seems to be a magnet for inappropriate relationships, thus making Karen look like just one of her bad choices, one that she could leave behind at any moment. In the end, Karen is the one that holds on to her, to their love.

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