Director Andrea Arnold’s take on the sole novel published by Emily Brontë relies so much on style that it fails to do justice to the story's tragic love affair. This is most noticeable during the closing scenes, where the stunted and sloppy acting detracts from the cinematography — the one aspect of the film that actually manages to hit all the right marks.
Arnold is able to create an inspired, palpable atmosphere, thanks in part to her decision to forego the use of music throughout. Instead of drowning out her gorgeous handheld shots of the foggy moors with melody, you hear wind whipping through a horse’s mane, dogs barking and insects crawling through mud puddles. The raw and dreamlike quality created through this cacophony of ambient sound is quelled, however, by “The Enemy,” an original (and all-too-modern) tune by Mumford & Sons that works fine on its own but comes as an unwelcome surprise here. This is only one of the many small mistakes that contribute to Arnold’s unsuccessful attempt to lend this story fresh perspective.