The Edge of Love (15)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Jun 17 2008The opening close-up of Keira Knightley’s bright red, heavily digitised lips as she sings on a tube platform at night says it all: war is an escapist fantasy in John Maybury’s claustrophobic, boozy, sensual vision of 1940s London as experienced by Dylan Thomas and the two women in his life. His wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and childhood lover Vera (Knightley) are having a lovely war of their own over the self-indulgent but likeable poet (Matthew Rhys): their world is more nylons than NCOs, more alcohol than air raids. Such is Maybury’s focus on their pleasures that their cigarettes sound as if he’s planted microphones in the burning tobacco.
The reality of the Blitz is left to archive as Maybury keeps things personal, depicting alleyways at night, smoky pubs and cramped flats as an intense friendship builds between Caitlin and Vera; Vera meets and marries William (Cillian Murphy), a straight-backed soldier who leaves for service overseas; and Caitlin and Vera buzz around Thomas like ‘Jules et Jim’ after a sex change.
Maybury’s shooting style is dark and angular; the production design, costumes and make-up are all too precious. If only Maybury let a little air out of his film: every window comes with a shaft of light; every mirror catches the camera’s eye. Visually, things lighten up when the trio move to a pair of bungalows in Wales, although the mood becomes more downbeat and destructive when a shell-shocked William returns from Greece to wonder why his wife and friends are living the life of Bacchus with his money. Ultimately, Sharman Macdonald’s screenplay is too muddled, too unfocused – is it about Thomas? is it about Vera and Caitlin? is it about Vera and William’s marriage? – although Maybury’s cinematic invention is never less than imaginative.
Author: Dave Calhoun