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With the shadow of La Knightely looming large, I really wanted "The
Edge Of Love" to be another "Atonement" - a big, beautiful looking,
poetic wartime romance - but it wasn't. Do not get me wrong, there are
many good things in "The Edge Of Love". It just did not touch my heart
the way that "Atonement" did.
The acting is uniformly fine. Tabloid darlings Keira Knightley, and Sienna Miller especially, proved that their performances in "Atonement" and "Factory Girl" respectively were no flash in the pan. They were both excellent. Cillian Murphy is also good as Keira Knightley's war traumatised husband and Matthew Rhys got to the heart of the indifferent, drunken, selfish chancer that was Dylan Thomas.
"The Edge Of Love" looks fantastic. Contrast and compare the cinematography of the 'London during the blitz' setting of the first half with the bleakness of the Welsh coastal town of the second half. The first half of the film presents almost a fantasy world: Dreamy and just out of focus. Smoky pubs, soft lighting and shadows. The second half of the film presents a hard reality: Harsh pebble beaches and wide open spaces. Rain, grass, pain and small town mediocrity. In the former romance flourishes amid the cigarette smoke and the alcohol; in the latter romance fractures, and there will be a reckoning for bad behaviour.
(I will say at this juncture that most critics have written that the film loses it's heart when it moves out of London. I disagree. I think the film becomes real and true once it moves to Wales. The second half is my favourite half of the film.)
But sadly, and whisper this very quietly, "The Edge Of Love" is just a little bit too dull. Mood movies, and "The Edge Of Love" is definitely a mood movie, have to walk a very fine line between immersion in atmosphere and the demands of plot to keep the punters interested. Too often "The Edge Of Love" falls into the former. It needed more story.
Not a bad film, just one that could have been better.
Naturally, before watching this film, ones expectations are high. The
tale of Dylan Thomas and his lovers promises to be exhilarating. The
stars used in the production hold high promise. However the result is
different. There is just something not quite right about this film.
Whilst it manages to capture the viewer with moments of cinematic beauty, The Edge of Love fails to entice. In some scenes the cinematography is perfect. The set design and costume cannot be faulted. The glamour and horror of the era are portrayed perfectly. But the story itself does not piece together. The sudden friendship of the two women seems too soon and lacking in explanation. The characters have little depth and I felt no real sympathy for any of them. It almost seems as if several crucial scenes were omitted.
The film itself is fairly disappointing, but perhaps worth watching for the moments when everything comes together because when this happens the film is stunning.
I went to see this as the Edinburgh Film Festival the other day and I
have to say I was a bit disappointed.
The score and the cinematography were lush and gorgeous and the acting was very good but the script lacked characterisation. I realise that Dylan Thomas was not meant to have been an overly pleasant man, but I failed to see why the seemingly likable, headstrong character of Vera Phillips ever fell in love with him. He came across as completely selfish and sleazy with virtually no redeeming qualities and it frustrated me that there seemed to be no explanation for every woman fawning over him. Characters made choices out of the blue and eventually I just grew to dislike all the characters I have loved in the first half.
What also grated about this film is that sometimes I swear I could have been watching 'Atonement' the amount of time Keira Knightley said "Come back to me." I really hope she wasn't trying to relive the glory of 'Atonement' through this film because I am afraid she will be sorely disappointed. Even though I personally did not enjoy 'Atonement' I can recognise that it is a marvellous film and sadly "The Edge of Love" just cannot compare.
So keira knightly is in it...So automatically we compare this film to
attonement. Aside rom the fact that this film is also wartime and her
appearance is uncanning, these films are totally different.
The Actors work well, i think one good thing is there is no memorable person, they are a team.
If you want a film where things happen, then id advise another as the story of this film is about human interaction and their physche's damaged by their experiences and how their lives are intertwined.
This film have genuine interaction, perfect pause moments that make you hold your breath. No its not exciting, but it is gripping if you can empathise with these characters. At moments i wondered if this film may have been better as a theatrical play rather than a movie. We expect a lot from movies as everything is possible, and yet with theatre we allow for interaction and rely on belief.
There are things wrong with it if your looking for a blockbuster, if you look for nothing and allow the film to take you in, move you, allow yourself to forget these stars, and not to judge them as actors but let them become people, you will truly ind yourself moved.
GO ON!! give it a go!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Can you capture the moment? When first you hear rain on a roof? Some
things are beyond the sum of their parts, expressing the poetry of
life. The things that matter.
Poet Dylan Thomas captured the seemingly inexpressible "A good poem helps to . . . extend everyone's knowledge, of himself and the world around him." (Bob Dylan named himself after him). So why has it taken so long to make a film of the great Dylan Thomas? A simple biopic could have missed the point. Writer Sharman Macdonald has taken a different, better approach.
In The Edge of Love, she creates the world of passions and complexities that fill the poems so we can swim in them. The lives of four friends. Dylan, who lusts and loves to the full. Wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller), his feisty support. War-hero William (Cillian Murphy), who saves him from a street brawl. And then there's his childhood sweetheart. Vera. Dear Vera. Take your breath away Vera. She's Caitlin's closest friend. William's wife. And, like a muse, the 'star' in Dylan's dark sky.
It all kicks off in the 1940 London Blitz, with bomb shelters in the Underground. Enter Vera (an impressive Keira Knightley) under makeshift stage spotlights. She meets Dylan for the first time again in years, her heart is flushed. Their eyes shine through the smoke of the room. The purity of their former passion. Dylan (native Welsh-speaker, Matthew Rhys) is no sanctified, sanitised poet. Master of his vices he must experience them all fully. He introduces his beloved wife then continues to woo Vera.
The Edge of Love is a visual treat. The soundtrack leaves you wanting for more. Performances are possibly the best by these actors in their careers. As a lush love story it's pretty good. As an insight into Dylan Thomas and the reality of poetry in all our lives, not bad at all. And as a tribute to a great man, inspiring.
The production has been at pains to project the spirit of Dylan Thomas without compromising historical accuracy too much. Dramatic tension involves a pull between artistic freedom and conventional morality. Audiences looking for an experience based on the latter may be disappointed. And it will play less well to audiences whose boundaries are those of Albert Square.
Sharman Macdonald seemed aware of the headstrong nature of artistic freedom and its limits when she spoke to producer Rebekah Gilbertson (granddaughter of the real William and Vera). "Think of all the things that you don't want me to write about," she said," because I have to have carte blanche." For Macdonald, the limits were if she should cause offence to Dylan's memory. But for many artists, especially men, the limits are those which wife and family could set on them. A woman is not going to let lofty ideals interfere with practical common sense issues, and will even put her children's interests before her own (This occasionally happens the other way round, as when towering genius Virginia Woolf refused to let loving Leonard bring her down to earth - in The Hours).
In spite of the tension between Caitlin and Vera, these two women become closest buddies. It is one of the main (and very beautiful) themes of the film.
The film's colours tell a story in themselves. In a drab, wartime Britain, Caitlin and Vera are vivid highlights in an ocean of grey. Shortly after meeting Vera's lit-up-in-lights stage persona, we encounter Caitlin through her searing blue eyes, sparkling in a darkened railway carriage. Her dramatic red coat cuts a dash through streets of colourless homogeneity, triumphing on a beautiful staircase as she reunites with Dylan. But Vera's lipstick red brightness is less enduring. For her, marriage is second-best, even when she has become possessed with genuine love for her husband.
Outstanding cinematography extends to using montage to juxtapose images, in a manner similar to poetry's juxtaposition of unrelated words to create further meaning. Horrific war scenes in Thessaly are intercut with screams of Vera in pregnancy. Giving birth or is it abortion? We are not told immediately. Pain is universal and goes beyond time and place to our present day.
Constant echoes of Dylan's poetry throughout the film lead us beyond earthly opposites. It reminds me of Marlon Brando reading TS Eliot in Apocalypse Now. A light beyond the horrors of the world. A different way of seeing things. "I'll take you back to a time when no bombs fell from the sky and no-one died ever," says Dylan to Vera as they walk along the beach. Elsewhere, Caitlin recalls childhood with Vera: "We're still innocent in Dylan," she says.
There's a time to leave your knickers at home or share a universal cigarette. (Not literally, perhaps.) A time to be inspired. Enjoy what is possibly the best British film of the year.
Set during the Second World War in both London and Wales, this film
portrays the complex relationships between four real-life characters:
the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (played by Welsh actor Matthew Rhys
abandoning his American accent from the US television series "Brothers
And Sisters"), his Irish wife Caitlin MacNamara (British actress Sienna
Miller), his first love Vera Phillips (another British actress Keira
Knightley) and Vera's husband the British soldier Captain William
Killick (Irish actor Cillian Murphy). Many of the incidents represented
are a matter of record but other occurrences are simply speculation on
the part of screenwriter Sharman Macdonald (Knightley's mother).
In truth, it is Keira Knightley's film. Her striking physiognomy always makes her a pleasure to watch, but this is the finest performance of her young (still only 23) career, as she effects a decent Welsh accent and even sings in a nuanced act of thespian of which she can be proud. Director John Maybury does not make the character or the poetry of Dylan Thomas any more accessible but the bonding and bruising between his wife and his lover make for a humanistic tale.
Despite the title and unlike some other stories about love and war,
this film isn't too sticky and pink, because love is as a rose: With
thorns, that is. The four leading actors set their characters realistic
and with a good sense and balance between the tragic and the
The music and lyrics of the cabaret/chanson-esquire songs (sung b Keira Knightley herself) drag the viewer deeper and deeper in the film, from one place to another, between the brutal war and amongst the peaceful love. Some people may find it too much a biopic, but it ís mostly a romantic story, even though it consequently follows the life of Dylan Thomas and the triangular relationship which is steeped by joy and jealousy.
London gets visualized from another angle for once, the bohemian life of Dylan during the bombings of the Germans is set in a floating atmosphere of small bedrooms, pubs and bars. The independent women, the soldier and the charismatic poet are constantly swept in both feelings of love and anger.
Maybe the end is too twisted and hangs somewhat loosely to the rest of the film, but all in all this is a great romantic story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This will be rough and tumbly, as I've just watched the film under
less-than-ideal (ahem) circumstances. Let me say first off that I feel
sorry for fans of Dylan Thomas: Matthew Rhys is charming beneath his
mop of dark curls, his eyes twinkle with mischief, and his expressive
voice lends itself well to what few lines of Thomas's poetry he
recites, but Dylan Thomas as a character in this film is such an
abominable wastrel and a cad that at best he's Satan with a pot-belly
and a Welsh accent.
Apologies, too, for this being all over the map. What doesn't work about the film, or seems to work against the filmmakers' intent: Dylan the cad, as above noted. Then the "friendship" between Caitlin Thomas and Vera Phillips, which seems pasted into the film from a photoshoot of Forties style between Sienna Miller (Irish accent off-and-on, and perpetually atrocious) and Keira Knightley (in full shrill-and-brittle mode, right up until the last twenty minutes). In declaring herself "an independent woman" to her admirer and future husband William Killick (Cillian Murphy, and more on him below), she seems to be speaking-- abrasively-- from some future era of organized feminism, a young woman of the Sixties dropped into the Blitz. In film time, Killick's patience with her outlasted mine by about an hour and ten minutes.
Other unworkables: A most unconvincing Blitz. I know that the war isn't the focus of the film, and they had to be shooting on a tight budget, but the grainy newsreel bits just don't cut it. (Nor, especially, does a flashback sequence toward the end, shot to look like an old home movie-- and where, I wondered, did they get the color film stock for those home movies when color film was being rationed even to the major studios?-- which comes off as saccharine and desperate.) Killick, waging war in a Greece that looks exactly like the shale quarry used in any thousand old Doctor Who episodes, doesn't fare much better, but the shock and resolute terror in Murphy's extraordinary blue eyes lend a jarring reality to the material.
Another shortfall: There's no story, really, no arc. There's a dramatic "bump" in the last reel, but all in all it's the rambling tale of two ostensibly despicable people (those being Dylan and Caitlin) who sponge off a truly decent person (poor Bill Killick) through the medium of a person who ought to know better, and who may or may not deserve to profit from the lesson she learns about love and fidelity en route (that, of course, being Vera).
A final grumble, and one that might sound perverse: if those involved in a production feel uncomfortable about staging intimate scenes, might we please return to the dignified days of the discreet fade-out? Not that simulated intercourse isn't ever less than awkward on screen, but if you must resort to shooting a love scene in a way that makes it seem as if we're watching the participants-- here Vera and William-- through a kaleidoscope, then please: cut the scene or call for a rewrite.
What works: The film looks good, in a can-do Masterpiece Theatre way. The Welsh coast is stunning and bleak, all misty light. Keira Knightley's singing voice is surprisingly sweet (which gives one hope that she won't do too great a disservice to "My Fair Lady"). Ms. Knightley herself, despite her prickly defensiveness in the film's early scenes, exhibits a quiet strength and maturity toward the end: a new thing for her, and most refreshing.
But the show belongs to Cillian Murphy. I think this is his best role to date. From the dashing romanticism of Killick in the film's early scenes to the battle-stunned soldier-come-home later on, he brings true shading and subtlety to the film. More importantly, he brings humanity. Dylan sweet-talks most effectively (he's a writer, after all), but the poetry of the film lies in William. He's the angel to Thomas's demon, and without him "The Edge of Love" would be a sad, bitter, ultimately pointless affair.
Welsh poet Dylan Thomas excused from serving in active duty is doing
his bit for the war effort producing bits of prose for some propaganda
branch of government in Whitehall.
Thomas is portrayed as a freethinker believing in free love married to a woman with an equally demanding artistic streak and likewise with a penchant for extramarital romance. Thomas writing and reciting his poetry in systematic domestic mayhem throughout becomes somewhat priggish towards the end, resting somewhat uncomfortably on his society connections and pulling rank on a war veteran, who had shot up his house, and who was incidentally married to the woman he had been having an affair with.
The real story of this film is the love of two women, one (Keira Knightley) whose first love was Thomas (Matthew Rhys), the second (Sienna Miller) who is Thomas's wife. At times it reminds of The Singing Detective, as in very good television with slightly sinister overtones laid on top of scenes of surreal camp absurdity.
This is primarily about love in WWII, yet we must remember that it's
also a biopic for Dylan Thomas and those around him at this particular
stage in his life.
The movie's timing is just great. It really captures what I think would have been the spirit during those times; smiling and hoping you're not going to get bombed. While it may prove boring to some, the movie does have a particularly dangerous edge to it.
At one point, my heart was racing towards the end as the movie hits its climax. It really does feature some poignant moments that are handled with skill by the four main actors. Cillian Murphy is on fine form here, as is Matthew Rhys. Both are polar opposites and it makes for an interesting watch. The relationship formed between Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley's characters is wonderful and we have the acting to thank (and watch out for a cameo by Suggs of 'Madness').
Despite all of this, it's a rather slow movie. Coupled with the fact it's just shy of two hours, it's quite a slog to get to the conclusion.
Overall, it's a solid non-fiction war movie with many wonderfully crafted moments that were no doubt helped by the splendid number of well-known British names behind the scenes. But it really does drone on for too much at times. Still, a worthwhile watch. 7/10
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