Messy, arty telling of a messy Dylan Thomas scandal

Sienna Miller (left) plays the poet's boozy Irish wife and Keira Knightley plays their lover - and then her husband comes home from battle.
Sienna Miller (left) plays the poet's boozy Irish wife and Keira Knightley plays their lover - and then her husband comes home from battle.
Posted: March 20, 2009

Here's a good excuse for philandering: "I sleep with other women because I'm a poet, and a poet feeds off life!"

That's Dylan Thomas talking - Dylan Thomas as played by Matthew Rhys in the insufferable The Edge of Love, a stagy, arty, and uncompelling account of the Welsh writer and his menage-y relations with his boozy Irish wife, Caitlin (Sienna Miller), and his young Welsh girlfriend, Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley).

Set during the London Blitz and the tumult of World War II, John Maybury's overly art-directed drama pivots around a real scandal in Thomas' life. A decorated British soldier by the name of William Killick (Cillian Murphy), returns from the front to find his wife - yes, Vera - romping around with the poet and his wife, apparently living off, and drinking through, Killick's savings. The good captain, possibly suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome, or maybe just peeved, fires his machine gun in the general direction of Thomas. A trial ensues.

The Edge of Love takes its time getting to this soap opera moment, lingering in London pubs, in the tube stations where Knightley's character sings torchily for the huddled citizens (she's dressed to the nines, with band and spotlights, as if the venue were Albert Hall and there were no war going on), and in the attic bedroom where Caitlin and Vera giggle naughtily as the Nazis drop their bombs.

Bomb. The word certainly takes on a double meaning when it comes to this pseudo-literary, pseudo-erotic malarkey.


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|