Temple has had an uneven career since smashing on to the scene with The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle. Once compared to Tashlin, he's now turned his graphic skills to the costume drama with this Ken Russell-like Romantik romp in the company of Coleridge, Byron, Wordsworth, Southey, et al - with disappointing results. There's no doubt where the sympathies of Temple and his scriptwriter lie; Roache is allowed loose rein in his wilful characterisation of impulsive genius Coleridge, whereas Hannah's envious tightwad Wordsworth is reduced to playing treacherous Salieri to Roache's Mozart. Coleridge's progressive laudanum dependency (his 'Kubla Khan' writing frenzy is interrupted by Wordsworth, not the person from Porlock) provides Temple's aesthetic justification for the anachronisms, flashback structure (from 1816 back to 1795), and subjective shots, but too often to trite effect. Cinematographer John Lynch's experiments occasionally pay dividends- witness the affecting moonlit sequence with Coleridge, Sarah (Samantha Morton, enjoying her malapropisms) and baby, when he reads 'Frost at Midnight' - but is more often alienating in all the wrong ways. It's the old problem of theatrical performances trouncing any hope of subtlety or insight.
Cast and crew
Frank Cottrell Boyce
John Hannah Linus Roache Samantha Morton Emily Woof Emma Fielding Andy Serkis Samuel West Clive Merrison Dexter Fletcher