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In 1950, John Brinnan invited the highly acclaimed and infamous Dylan Thomas to New York for a series of poetry readings. Ignoring rumors of Thomas' frivolities back home, Brinnan has his hands full when the poet arrives. Desperate to get his watchful university chaplains off his back, Brinnan takes Thomas to his family retreat in the woods of Connecticut. But even in the middle of nowhere, the resourceful and cantankerous Thomas finds an audience for his art, passion, love and aggression...
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A monumental achievement: where art-house and great entertainment are snug bedfellows
Everyone in the cinema was quite struck by the profound and beautiful movie that is "Set Fire To The Stars". You could see it in the faces of the audience, as each person figured out which message had the most resonance.
This movie is much more than another biopic of an artist on the fringe of society. And for most audiences, it will be much more meaningful than Dylan Thomas's poetry. It took me a while to process the resonance for me in this movie. I had to filter the welcome enormity of Elijah Wood's screen presence and Celyn Jones' powerful persona. But they gave me enough gentle nudges and artistic clues under Andy Goddard's direction to lead me to the following conclusion: the purpose of this film is to unravel some of the mysteries of male friendship, and to lift the veil on hero worship (which Elijah must experience on the other side, in his real life) and, of course, where Dylan helped, it was on the transformative power of words.
With all this colour going on, the superb aesthetic of the black and white film compliments the mood nicely. Tantalisingly the film gives no pithy answers, or sound-bitten sentimentalism. Instead I need to look inside myself, and perhaps within the poetry of Dylan Thomas, to find some of those answers. Or maybe I just need to watch it again.
This review also needs to pay justice to the sheer entertainment value that is throughout the movie. I loved it - from start to finish. Elijah's performance is incredible. Celyn's character is jaw- droppingly intriguing (and believable), and the music from Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals fame) is beautiful at all times and crosses a range of genres and styles. Everything is in balance, except Dylan's psyche - and that's what makes it fun!
This is a monumental achievement, where intellectualism and pure fun entertainment ride side by side. Perhaps it is the start of a new genre - where intellectual movies have taken their heads out of the clouds and are doing it with a smile. I'm sure that's how Dylan would have wanted it to be.
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