EDGE OF LOVE
Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) and Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys) were teenage loves; ten years later the two reconnect in London during the war. She's working as a singer whilst he's churning out scripts for government propaganda films, and living off the last in a long line of infatuated women. The two former lovers still feel the emotional pull for each other, but Thomas is now married to the adventurous Caitlin (Sienna Miller). Despite their love-rival status, the women form a surprising friendship. When William Killick (Cillian Murphy) meets Vera, he's smitten and woos her until she agrees to marry him. But he is off to the war and Vera is left in Dylan's orbit.
Review by Louise Keller:
Love, war and poetry swirl together to form this cocktail of a film, in which fantasy and reality are the main, but conflicting ingredients. Sharman Macdonald (who also happens to be Keira Knightley's mother) has written a dense screenplay about a high-pitched emotional story involving Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (played by Matthew Rhys), his first love Vera (Knightley) and wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller). Infatuation, infidelity, friendship, jealousy and betrayal are not comfortable partners, as Vera and Caitlin discover with the help of Cillian Murphy's catalyst soldier hero William Killick. In keeping with Dylan's ethereal poetry, director John Maybury injects an artistic flourish to this involving drama, allowing us to understand the intricate complexities of the spiral of love and friendship in which the characters find themselves engrossed.
To Dylan, Vera lives in his sky, while Caitlin remains in his earth. In an unexpected twist, the two women in Thomas' life become best friends. 'I might like you; then again, I might not,' Miller's Caitlin tells Knightley's Vera on first meeting. It is clear from the start that Vera still holds a large crush on Thomas, her first love, but lets the persistence of Murphy's devoted and loyal William to penetrate her reserve. He falls for her beauty and aloofness as she sings torch songs in the underground shelters of the 1940 blitz. But when William heads to the isolated Wales coast during the war, and finds the threesome comfortably settled in a controversial relationship, a war of a different kind erupts. To William, life is simple when it comes to the woman he loves, but to the parasitic Dylan who feeds off life in order to create his thoughts and words, people and emotions are nothing but commodities used for pleasure.
Knightley and Miller deliver splendid performances, the former showing she has a pretty, tuneful voice. Murphy is enigmatic as the strong-willed soldier, while Rhys is suitably soppy as the weak and often detestable Dylan. The story drags at times but there are rewards as the relationships each find their footholds, and Vera is taken right to the precarious edge of love as she finally realises what is most important.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Artists and poets whose works have inspired and enriched our lives seem to have usually lived fairly rotten lives, and Dylan Thomas appears to be no exception. This wonderfully cinematic revelation of his life as seen through relationships with the two key women in his life doesn't have to convince us that every detail is historically accurate. It can't anyway. But it does convince in terms of characters and the mood of the times.
Matthew Rhys is remarkably effective as Dylan in a performance that captures the complexity of a man who lives to write, but is not very good at anything else. Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley are superb, too, as the sparring women united in friendship but at odds over love. Miller's feisty and risk taking free spirit Caitlin is an entire creation, while Knightley is riveting as the lovely and torn Vera.
The film's cinematic signature is made up of moody imagery that is still grounded in reality, but with poetic flourish. Angelo Badalamenti's score is elegantly understated but crucial, and Emma E. Hickox finds the right structure with her edit.
I really don't like the title, the pace sags at times and the ending is a bit of a mess, but these are luckily unharmful to the film's engaging tone and compelling characters. It's an ideal film for all those who complain about too many brash, youth oriented popcorn movies.
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EDGE OF LOVE (M)
CAST: Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Matthew Rhys, Cillian Murphy
PRODUCER: Rebekah Gilbertson, Sarah Radclyffe
DIRECTOR: John Maybury
SCRIPT: Sharman Macdonals
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Freeman
EDITOR: Emma E. Hickox
MUSIC: Angelo Badalamenti
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alan MacDonald
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 21, 2008