The Edge of Love
dir John Maybury
scr Sharman Macdonald
with Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy, Matthew Rhys, Camilla Rutherford, Karl Johnson, Alastair Mackenzie, Lisa Stansfield, Simon Kassianides, Richard Clifford, Jonathan Phillips, Suggs
release UK 20.Jun.08
08/UK Capitol 1h51
The Edge of Love
Love on the rocks: Rhys and Knightley

miller rhys murphy
Opening Film:
edinburgh film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Edge of Love Based on real events from the life of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, this period drama makes for fascinating viewing even if the story is far too dark and gloomy. But strong acting and atmospheric production design make it worth a look.

During the Blitz in 1940 London, Dylan Thomas (Rhys) is a drunken artist who still flirts shamelessly with his old girlfriend Vera (Knightley). His wife Caitlin (Miller) endures this, because she and Dylan have a fiercely passionate relationship with all kinds of secrets. And as she and Vera become closer, Vera decides that maybe she should give in to the advances of a young soldier, William (Murphy). But while William is off fighting the Nazis in Greece, Dylan is still pursuing the now-pregnant Vera.

The film is much more complicated than the plot suggests, as is expected with Maybury (The Jacket) in the director's chair. This is a provocative examination of a group of artists whose broadminded attitudes have led them into perilous relationships. And adding both creative bravado and lots of alcohol certainly doesn't help. But the characters are so vivid, and the multi-pronged romance so deranged, that we are utterly gripped from the opening shot of Knightley singing in an Underground bomb shelter.

These are probably the most interesting women Knightley and Miller have ever played, and Maybury elicits powerful performances from both of them--wrenching, emotional and alluring. Knightley often looks like a 1940s movie goddess with her highlighted lips and cheekbones, while Miller is a more fiery, flirty dark horse. Both are sassy and brittle in equal measures, and far more interesting than the mopey, impulsive men, who are well-played by Rhys and Murphy.

Their story is traced in a series of disconnected, repetitive vignettes. And we are further distanced by severe camerawork that focuses on mirrors and smoke, a murky, painterly approach that's dotted with chilling violence and turbulent emotions as the characters dip into obsession, jealousy and paranoia. Essentially this is a story about people making themselves miserable, which is perhaps why it's so hard to engage with any of them. But as a look at two women who find an unusual connection, it's rather beautiful.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 31.Mar.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall