Poetic justice. Wordsworth and Coleridge (Hannah and Roache) take a stroll...
dir Julien Temple|
scr Frank Cottrell Boyce
with Linus Roache, John Hannah, Samantha Morton, Emily Woof, Andy Serkis, Samuel West, Dexter Fletcher, Emma Fielding, Michael N Harbour, Guy Lankester, William Scott-Masson, Andrea Lowe
release US 29.Jun.01; UK 14.Sep.01
Temple brings us another of his pop culture bios (Vigo, The Filth and the Fury) with this examination of 19th century poets, the rock stars of their time. As usual though, Temple's fine visual and thematic artistry is undercut by his persistent refusal to let the story speak for itself.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Roache) and William Wordsworth (Hannah) were unlikely friends. Where Coleridge's work was passionate and edgy, Wordsworth wrote of soft pastoral beauty. Where Coleridge experimented freely with drugs, becoming addicted to opium in the process, Wordsworth was a sensible, soulful artist. And while Coleridge married the patient, gritty Sara (Morton), Wordsworth married a pinch-lipped tyrant (Fielding). And it was hardly surprising that, while the two poets struggled to work together, Coleridge fell for Wordsworth's free-spirit sister (Woof).
Through Temple's eyes, this has all the drama and outrage of Mozart and Salieri. This film suggests--no, claims--that Coleridge was the talented one, while Wordsworth's jealousy drove him to fits of madness and pure destructive evil! Fortunately, despite Temple's unsubtle hand, the film is artfully made, beautifully shot and drawing natural, energetic performances from the cast, all of whom are excellent.
The period detail is also startlingly authentic, lacking the over-design of most costume dramas and bringing us earthily into the lively settings. Where it goes wrong is in Temple's obstinate insistence on shoving his ideas down our throats--he crosses the line between believable and preachy, using clever anachronisms far too often and ultimately driving the intelligent story into pure silliness. Still, despite the indulgent pretentiousness, there are powerful observations here about creativity, jealousy, addiction and trust.
|Kallie Wilbourn, Las Vegas, New Mexico: "Temple is hard on Wordsworth. Prig and narcissist? Took credit for his sister's lines/ideas? That's a bit much to accept without question. However, this is a gorgeous, hallucinogenic film. I was taken into Coleridge's consciousness, but also felt great sympathy for his wife. Very strong performances, and despite its tendency to go right on over the top, I'd watch it a third time for the actors and cinematography." (24.Nov.12)|