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The Edge of Love (15)

PUBLISHED: 12:19 25 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:17 24 August 2010

The Edge of Love: Sultry Keira

The Edge of Love: Sultry Keira

The Edge of Love (15) www.theedgeoflove.co.uk The passion and pathos of legendary poet Dylan Thomas is told through the lives of two feisty, free-spirited women. Vera Phillips, played by Kiera Knightly (whose mother wrote the script) and Thomas w

The Edge of Love (15)

www.theedgeoflove.co.uk

The passion and pathos of legendary poet Dylan Thomas is told through the lives of two feisty, free-spirited women.

Vera Phillips, played by Kiera Knightly (whose mother wrote the script) and Thomas were childhood sweethearts; fast forward ten years and the two reconnect in war-time London.

She's working as a singer whilst he's churning out propaganda scripts for Government in aid of the war effort.

The two feel the thunderbolt once more, but Thomas is now married to the adventurous Caitlin, played by the underrated Sienna Miller.

Their childhood romance may have been rekindled, but with another typically wooden performance from Knightly, coupled with her mother's self-indulgent, lethargic script, the first hour or so is painfully boring.

Even when the women form a surprising friendship - despite their love-rival status - the story is told in far too subtle a manner, and verges on pretentious.

The premise of the story is great: both women are connected by a charismatic poet who loves them both, and while Caitlin indulges in her own infidelities, she knows her husband's connection with Vera is something deeper.

But even then the film lacks emotional drama and Knightly struggles to form a convincing relationship with Matthew Rhys, who is terrific as the Welsh poet.

Although unknown in household circles, Rhys has notched up an impressive and decisively discerning CV, notably playing the Graduate in the highly-acclaimed West End stage production in 2000, alongside a naked Cathleen Turner.

Nonchalant, arrogant, provocative and very witty, Rhys is so plausible as Dylan Thomas you are left feeling as if he had studied the poet's every move.

Vera marries her devoted admirer William Killick, played by the ever-sinister Cillian Murphy, but when William is posted abroad on a dangerous assignment behind enemy lines Vera returns with her friends to Wales (to a village with a distinct likeness to Thomas' fictional Welsh seaside town, Llareggub, in his masterpiece Under Milk Wood), where the battle between her heart and head becomes more intense and the film finally (at last!) starts to heat up.

William, scarred by war, comes back a changed man and finds that Vera is no longer the carefree cabaret girl he married.

Neighbourhood gossip together with Dylan's open mockery of soldier-heroes, fuels William's anger.

Enraged, he stages a violent attack that forces Vera to choose between the men in her life and the friend that she loves.

It would seem Kiera Knightly needs a powerful script to bring out her considerable talents, and her awkward past performances may be more to do with poor film choices than anything else as when pushed to emotional extremes, she is terrific.

Although bleak, through great costume, powerful scenery and romantic cinematography, the film is visually sumptuous.

And thanks in large part to Rhys' rich recitals of Thomas' poetry interspersed throughout the film, it is moving and rather poignant.

However it is not worth the extortionate cost of a cinema trip - more of a solid Sunday evening in front of the box.

w.davies@archant.co.uk


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