Magazine article The Spectator

Four Play

Magazine article The Spectator

Four Play

Article excerpt

The Edge of Love

15, Nationwide

The Edge of Love, which is based loosely on real events, explores the ménage à quatre that existed for a few years between the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller), his childhood friend Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) and her eventual husband, William Killick (Cillian Murphy), and if all these people were exactly as portrayed in this film, then so be it but, boy, are they tiresome. If you ever went out to dinner with the Thomases and the Killicks you would say afterwards, 'I'm sorry, my dear, but what a bore. Did you notice, by dessert, I'd begun to snore?' (Look, I'm a poet, too! And you know what? It's not so hard! ) Perhaps if the film had managed to generate any kind of warmth or sympathy, it would be different, but it doesn't and so it isn't. There even comes a point about halfway through when you'll wish they'd all go gentle into the good night, or, if not gentle, then any way they so fancy so long as they go right now. They could go by bike into the good night. (And there I go again! I can even do half-rhymes!

It must be a natural gift! ) It opens in wartime London during the Blitz, with Keira as Vera singing to Londoners sheltering in the Tube. Vera is a chanteuse (yes, Keira sings! ; thinly! ).

The very first shot is the whole screen filled with her extravagantly glossy, red-lipsticked mouth, moving lingeringly and sexily in song, and from then on the camera will not leave her alone; sucks at her face as if it were a plunger and she were a blocked drain. The camera is more in love with Keira than either Dylan or William ever appear to be.

It's close-up after close-up after close-up and then, just to not change the pace a little, it's another close-up. On the whole, this is less a ménage à quatre, and more a ménage à une; the other trois having been somewhat pushed aside. This is a shame as Rhys's Dylan, whom he plays as a selfish bounder and man-child who wants to have his cake and greedily wolf it, has to take a back seat (as does Dylan's poetry but that's OK. This is not a biopic, remember).

Anyway, Vera, who had known Dylan as a teenager, bumps into him in a London pub and the two reconnect, even though Dylan is now married to Caitlin and Vera is being wooed by William, a captain in the army. …

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