The Edge of Love
Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy, Matthew Rhys / Fiction / English, Greek, Welsh
Guilty pleasure meets eloquent art film: meet the perfect EIFF opener!
?We begin in paradise. A young woman is onstage crooning a sugary rendition of “Blue Tahitian Moon”; she’s all smiles, clad for the tropics, and looks as lushly, magically glamorous as an Alberto Vargas pin-up painting. As the camera pulls back, however, an incongruous setting is revealed: this air-raid siren is singing to massed shelterers in a London Underground station, while the Blitz rages overhead. This juxtaposition of dreamy romantic fantasy and hard-edged reality is one of the key conflicts that animates John Maybury’s fascinatingly rich and complex account of the troubled wartime love life of Dylan Thomas. Thomas is portrayed here by Matthew Rhys, in a performance which marks a seismic big-screen breakthough for the long-respected star of the current TV hit Brothers and Sisters. Our beach belle is, of course, Keira Knightley – ravishing here as Thomas’s childhood sweetheart from Wales, Vera Philips. The pair rediscover one another in London, whilst both pursuing the nearest equivalent to an artistic career that wartime can offer them: she as a singer, he as a writer and narrator of propaganda films. Thomas is married to the force of nature that is Caitlin, beautifully played by the magnetic Sienna Miller. Rather than see off the competition, Caitlin bonds with Vera over their shared claims on the poet’s body and soul. Meanwhile, Vera is courted by handsome soldier William (Cillian Murphy) – but what future awaits a romance born in the emotional chaos of war? And how can William secure his niche in Vera’s already crowded affections? No mere costume potboiler, this film proves as passionate and complex as its characters. Sharman Macdonald’s masterful script queries the notion of the artist’s muse, the place of artists and intellectuals in time of war, and, devastatingly, the endless psychic reverbations of shell shock. Stirring, insightful and bursting with life, The Edge of Love is a triumph for all concerned.
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