Frances O'Connor’s ambitious directorial debut takes creative liberties in portraying the mysterious literary figure behind Wuthering Heights. In doing so, she carefully reminds viewers not to judge a book by its cover.
With little or no details of her short-lived life, O’Connor’s confident direction and deep respect for the narrative transcends clichés to become a genuinely moving examination of what it really means to choose one’s way.
Anchored by Emma Mackey’s superb performance as the woman in question, the richly fictionalised tale acquaints viewers with the suffocated identity of a repressed young writer battling to take charge of her own story.
Emily is considered to be an oddball by locals in her small town of Howarth. She would rather roam the rugged moors or pen poems with her siblings: Charlotte (Alexandra Dowling), Anne (Amelia Gething), and Bramwell (Fionn Whitehead). When her secluded lifestyle is interrupted by the new church curate (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Emily looks for CliffNotes on how to navigate her steamy romance.
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O'Connor’s disciplined filmmaking radiates a poetry in her storytelling, finding powerful sentiments in every chapter.
The subtlety of Abel Korzeniowski’s score captures Emily’s resounding determination, while Michael O’Connor’s sumptuous, but never fussy, costumes fit the bill perfectly.
Cinematographer Nanu Segal’s keen eye captures the gothic gloom with handsomely mounted images of the Yorkshire moors, making sure the emotional intensity of the landscape is kept. A series of deftly composed shots paints a bitter picture of intellectual autonomy in 19th-century England.
Sex Education’s Mackey is the revelation here. She effortlessly inhabits her role as the leading lady and is impeccably cast in a performance that highlights her character’s determination to flout the rules society has set in place.
At over two hours, the film feels drawn out in parts, but it is impossible to shake this understated gem.
O’Connor said she wanted the movie to be "a love letter to women today". Mission accomplished.