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Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
Like one that on a lonesome road doth walk in fear and dread, and having once turned 'roud walks on and turns no more his head, because he knows a frightful fiend doth close behind him tred. 'Tis a strange place this limbo, not a place yet named so.
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Far from a "historical" piece it's a lively character piece with interesting direction, although at times a bit empty
In the 19th Century, poets are the rock stars of their time using drugs, living on the edge and revered by many for their creative influence. At a rally where he protests against the war with France and slavery, Samuel Coleridge meets the young William Wordsworth, who idolises him and joins him in his "revolution". When Coleridge flees the city with his wife and baby to set up a self-sustaining Utopia of their own, William and his sister join them. The two friends get down to work, although the writing process starts to destroy Coleridge from the inside although maybe it's the opium? I taped this film because the title and cast caught my interest but, whenever I read what it was about I thought twice because it sounded like a dull historical film about characters I didn't know a great deal about. Despite this I decided to give it a go and see if it was any good. From the very start the film interested me with its strange visuals and interesting characters. The actual plot is not so easy to get into, but the relationships are well written and there is always something going on. I do not know the "real" facts behind these characters so I will not go down the road of picking at this film for what definitely contains a great deal of artistic license (the film ends on the London Eye) but in a way it is the license that makes it more interesting. With this, we are able to enter the experience rather than just the story; it also allows for plenty of interesting touches. I laughed quite a bit to read reviews ranting about errors in continuity, with some shots having modern things in the background perhaps they didn't reach the end of the film to see that this was deliberate and became more frequent as the film went on (why review it if you haven't seen it all?). The precise meaning of this was lost on me other than it being about Coleridge being ahead of his time or timeless in his vision, but it did make the film interesting. The characters of Coleridge and Wordsworth are both interesting and it is they that make the story worth sticking with.
This is not to imply it is brilliant because it isn't, but it is enjoyable, interesting and different enough to keep me watching. The direction is a bit too forced at times but it does have some nice moments that are original if not cohesive. The cast do well to help inject a certain amount of humour, wonder and drama when any or all of them are required. Roache gets all the "wonder" stuff and is pretty good but he has the film stolen from him by stealth as Hannah delivers a great performance. Wordsworth starts out idolising Coleridge and following him, but then gradually turns to destroying his work etc this transformation is very well done by Hannah, who works the extremes well but does the transition better. Support is as strong as you would expect from Morton, Woof, Serkis and others but the film belongs to the lead pair and the director.
Overall this is not a brilliant film but it is an interesting one. The narrative is difficult because the director tries hard to make it obscure and difficult to get deep into, but the general delivery features an interest character story told with humour, drama and good acting. The interesting (if a little pretentious) direction is always interesting even if it can be a little alienating at times. If it sounds boring and "not your sort of thing" then you'll be the same as me in which case you should give it a try anyway, but I do wonder what fans of Wordsworth and/or Coleridge made of it.
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