Kevin Saving on
The Edge of Love
(Capitol Films/BBC Films, released 2008)
This film centres on an episode towards the end of the second world war when two families, the Thomases and the Killicks, were living in close proximity near the Cardiganshire coastal town of New Quay. The 'Thomases' were, of course, the poet Dylan and his bohemian wife, Caitlin, whilst Mrs Killick was Dylan's childhood friend, Vera (portrayed here by the seemingly ubiquitous Keira Knightly, kitted- out with a serviceable Welsh accent).
Predictably (as with anything concerning the Thomases) there was always going to be a smidgen of alcoholic excess coupled with a dollop of adultery). What perhaps was less forseeable is the brooding presence of a combat-fatigued commando captain, William Killick (the excellent Cillian Murphy). Writer Sharman MacDonald and director John Maybury keep the story - rather slender in itself - moving along briskly enough, though I suspect that, ultimately, Mathew Rhys's charismatic Dylan is - for once - done less than historical justice.
At the heart of The Edge of Love is the relationship between its female leads, and Knightly - though competent enough - finds herself acted off the screen by Sienna miller's Caitlin: a version rather more svelte than its original! Miller is luminous as Dylan's spouse, a woman both sinned against and sinning, and manages somehow to convey the enduring love which held the marriage together, despite the wanton and selfish excesses of its two principals.
For me, this beautifully-shot film is redeemed by its director of photography, Jonathon Freeman's, polished and atmospheric cinematography - which compensates for some occasionally 'tricksy' directorial liberties. I also could not help admiring the solid authenticity of the squalor depicted in Thomas's 'Majoda' bungalow (he once memorably described its walls as 'bum-paper thin'). Hollywood, to this day, has never quite mastered 'squalor' - it takes Brit cinema to do that.
Kevin Saving © 2008