A handsome, mostly tasteful production on a par with 2001’s Bayley-Murdoch impersonation Iris, Sylvia is still ridden with all the ankle-spraining lawn divots of the biopic: clumpy composite characters, the collapsed chronology and the expository ventriloquism. Not for nothing has the daughter of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes excoriated this production in verse as propping up a ‘Sylvia Suicide Doll’. But Paltrow is no marionette, and her performance stitches a fascinating double bind of Plath’s sunny all-American exterior and her stormcloud inner voices. As Hughes, Craig radiates the fabled enormous erotic puissance, and the film rather admirably leaves him as a stone-bust enigma. Only a casual knowledge of this doomed literary marriage, however, will obviate the movie’s various re-enactments.
Cast and crew