Agnes MacDonnell (Greta Scacchi), a strong and self-confident Englishwoman in her forties, owns a large estate on an island off the coast of Northern Ireland. When she begins a passionate ... See full summary »
Details a young woman's summer in New York working for a Mademoiselle-like magazine, return home to New England, and subsequent breakdown all amidst the horrors of the fifties, from news of... See full summary »
Sylvia West is a young poetess engaged to Frederic Summers, an eccentric millionaire. Summers, a man who always fears he is being loved for his money, decides to make a small check on his ... See full summary »
The Hotel Splendide is on a remote and cold island, accessible only by a once-a-month ferry. It's a dark and dreary spa created by the late Dame Blanche, whose grown children now run the ... See full summary »
In 1956, aspiring American poet Sylvia Plath meets fellow poet Edward Ted Hughes at Cambridge, where she is studying. Enthralled with the genius of his writing, Sylvia falls in love with him even before meeting him, and he quickly falls in love with her. They eventually marry. Sylvia quickly learns that others are also enthralled with her husband, for a combination of his good looks, charisma, fame and success. Sylvia lives in her husband's professional shadow as she tries to eke out her own writing career, which doesn't come as naturally to her as it does to Ted. She also suspects him of chronic infidelity. Both issues affect Sylvia's already fragile emotional state, she who once tried to commit suicide earlier in her life. Through her pain and her anger, she does gain minor success as a writer, with a completed semi-autobiographical novel and a few well received collection of poems. Following, she tries to regain some happiness in her life with Ted, but has an alternate plan if that... Written by
Sylvia Plath's daughter and literary executor, Frieda Hughes, not only refused to cooperate with the producers or allow them access to her mother's poetry, but also publicly denounced the project in a published poem of her own. See more »
Sometimes I dream the tree, and the tree is my life. One branch is the man I shall marry, and the leaves my children. Another branch is my future as a writer, and each leaf is a poem. Another branch is a good academic career. But as I sit there trying to choose, the leaves bring to turn brown and blow away, until the tree is absolutely bare.
See more »
I am pretty familiar with Plath's story, and am also a keen fan of her work, which i think contributed to my hesitancy in seeing the film. I did not have high hopes for this film at all, and honestly, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
My main criticisms:
I found it hard to get past the whole 'Oooh look it's Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath'. Someone who isn't famous on a global scale would have been more credible.
The whole premise of the film hinges on the deep passionate relationship of Plath and Hughes, yet I never really felt convinced by it. The relationship came across as quite two dimensional, and even pretty one sided on the part of Paltrow/Plath. Instead of being portrayed as an emotionally fragile woman driven to the edge by Hughes' constant philandering and ultimate betrayal, Plath actually seemed to come across as being deeply insecure and neurotic, constantly suffering from extreme PMT, and overreacting every time she saw Hughes even talking to another woman, rather than having genuine reason to suspect his infidelity.
There were a couple of key dramatic moments (such as after they have made love for the first time, and when they are out in the boat together) that felt very hammy, so disrupted the momentum of the piece.
The score is just awful. Totally totally overwrought, over the top, too loud and too much of it. Plus, as Paltrow/Plath really starts to lose her mind there is an almost constant sound of howling wind in the backgroud. Again, OTT. Less definitely would have been more.
Ok, I complained about Paltrow above, but she really did a great job. She really is a very talented actress, and it is a shame the whole celebrity thing gets in the way. She was particularly fine in the latter stages of the film, and the sad descent into loneliness and irreversible depression was very well judged.
Likewise, Daniel Craig was very enigmatic, although I wonder whether the one sidedness of the relationship as mentioned above may have come from him.
As a whole the film was very sympathetic, and showed how hard it must have been for Hughes to live with Plath. It doesn't justify his behaviour but rather tries to show an understanding. It also evokes a sense of a time when poets were considered important.
This film stayed with me for some days after watching it, and I would recommend it. It is somewhat uneven in pace and direction, but I think Christine Jeffs is a director with talent, although her inexperience showed. But above all, it renewed my interest in both Plath and Hughes.
46 of 49 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?