Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Edge of Love (2008) [R] ***



Based on a true story, The Edge of Love is a dark, character-driven drama depicting the intertwined lives of four people during an eighteen month period in World War II England.

Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) is a London cabaret singer; she provides entertainment in underground shelters while German bombs are falling. By chance she reconnects with Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), the brilliant, charismatic poet who was her lover when they were young, innocent teenagers in Wales a decade earlier, and who now writes mindless, boring scripts for government propaganda films. Dylan has married his latest lover, the feisty, adventurous Caitlin MacNamara (Sienna Miller), but when Vera allows the homeless Dylan and Caitlin to share her London flat, Dylan tries to rekindle his romance with her.

While Caitlin indulges in her own romantic infidelities, and recognizes a similar need in her husband, she senses that Dylan's relationship with Vera is deeper and potentially more dangerous than his other affairs. Strangely, Vera and Caitlin, two women who might be natural rivals for Dylan's affection, form a deep friendship. Although Vera enjoys the flirtation with Dylan, she accepts the ardent attentions of an army captain, William Killick (Cillian Murphy), and marries him just before he is sent to Greece, on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines.

Dylan, Caitlin and the now pregnant Vera return to Wales to wait for William's return, and Vera's inner struggle between her passion for Dylan and her duty to William grows more intense. Eventually William returns home, a changed man deeply scarred by the war. He discovers that Vera is no longer the carefree cabaret singer with whom he fell in love. Local gossip about Vera and Dylan, together with Dylan's disdain for soldier heroes, fuels William's rage, and he fires a submachine gun into Dylan and Caitlin's cottage, terrifying the couple and Dylan's pacifist friends, and destroying the friendship between the two couples.

Filmed in London and the picturesque Welsh countryside, this is an intense story of love and friendship complicated by desire and guilt. It shows what can happen when the boundaries of marriage are ignored. The screenplay, direction and editing are all excellent, although the story may move too slowly for some viewers. Production values are terrific, especially the costumes, sets and soundtrack. The cast is outstanding, especially Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, who was nominated for a British Independent Film Award as Best Supporting Actress. If you like intense, character-driven period drama set in WWII England, films like Atonement, then you won't want to miss The Edge of Love

Labels: biography, drama, romance, war, WWII

Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 39/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=51, viewers=60)
Blu-ray
Wikipedia - Dylan Thomas
Wikipedia - Caitlin McNamara Thomas

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