Movie spotlight: Plummer in 'Barrymore'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2012 - 3:01 PM
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James Howson as Heathcliff and Kaya Scodelario as Catherine in "Wuthering Heights"

Photo: , Oscilloscope Pictures

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Andrea Arnold's radical take on "Wuthering Heights" (★★★, unrated) chills like a fogbound moor and stings like brambles. Arnold drastically pares back dialogue and exposition, telling the classic tale of passion and revenge with probing, harshly sensual camera work and a minimum of sentimentality. Where the novel's Heathcliff was dark, Arnold's is black, a twist that deepens his sense of tragic isolation and vengeful resentment. James Howson is compelling in the role, and Kaya Scodelario makes Catherine's aching love for this damaged, angry man as raw as a wound. If you insist on word-for-word fidelity, stay far, far away.

In "Barrymore" (★★★, unrated), directed and written by Érik Canuel, based on the play by William Luce, Christopher Plummer plays John Barrymore at the end of the great actor's career as he struggles to stage a comeback in "Richard III." The New York Times called it "a surprisingly good and vigorous show. The words, drawn from his biography and some of his roles, are fine and even better when Shakespeare is the author. Mr. Plummer stumbles beautifully, poignantly and often, leering and searching through a haze of memory or, with concern edged with panic, calling for 'a line, a line' much as Richard III calls for a horse. From smile to sneer he captures Barrymore's majesty and grandiloquence, recites his triumphs and humiliations."

 

("Barrymore" screens 7 p.m. Sun., Mon. and Thu. "Wuthering Heights" opens Fri., St. Anthony Main, 115 SE. Main St., Mpls.)

 

 

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