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Film Review

Film Review

Film Review

Film Review

Film Review



When Dylan Thomas is asked in this film why he commits adultery he explains it's "because I'm a poet, and a poet feeds off life." It seems that in the old days to be an artist meant you had to be bohemian; as if in order to access great art you had to live outside the moral code of society. So the artists were often the opiate takers, the alcoholics and the sexual libertines. This film explores the impact of this belief, especially in its application to sexual freedom, in the early life of Dylan Thomas.


The story covers the tangled relationships between Thomas (played by Mathew Rhys), his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and his lover Vera (Keira Knightley) and her husband William (Cillian Murphy). Ironically, although Thomas has a cool and cavalier attitude to fidelity, being with his various lovers seems to bring out an almost sentimental, romantic side to him. In the end, Dylan is portrayed as someone who concocts pretty words and ideas about love but who cannot actually love in a way that is ultimately fulfilling for his lovers. This film could not be said to be an advert for free love; the result of all these characters being in the orbit of the great artist seems to be an ongoing state of unhappiness (especially Caitlin) punctuated by occasional moments of relief fuelled by alcohol and sex. The film ‘climaxes‘ when jealousy finally raises its ugly head and the ‘free love’ idyll is threatened by the raging anger it has provoked. The denouement itself (which I won’t disclose) is so surprising that had it not been based on an actual event you would not have believed it.


The film is well acted all round - Keira Knightley, (whose mother wrote the screenplay) is not one of my favourite actresses but I found that this was the best bit of acting I’ve seen her do. It is also beautifully shot with a great wartime period feel but whilst enjoying these factors, I found myself feeling slightly annoyed by the characters themselves. Not because they were hedonistic but because they were actually rather boring and superficial.


However the more I thought about the film after watching it the more I came round to appreciating it as an examination of what love is, as seen through the desperate strivings after it in the lives of a great poet and his coterie. The title actually sums it up brilliantly. If this subject interests you, it’s an intelligent and thought provoking film which you may like to check out.


Footnote; I actually shared a taxi with Caitlin’s granddaughter (an author) earlier this year at a Welsh Literary festival. I really wish I’d watched this earlier to find out what she had thought of the movie.




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