The Edge of Love

Writers can sometimes be genuine enigmas.  Hiding behind words their inner thoughts can be difficult to gauge amidst their dulcet prose.  Perhaps this is why movies about them have been somewhat hit and miss as the screenplay is forced to project a mind-set it knows nothing about.  The Edge of Love delves into a supposed interlude in Welsh poet’s Dylan Thomas’ life where in a time of war his volatile love life exploded with emotional ferocity.
Singer Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) performs each night in a London underground station during the early days of World War 2.  Entering a bar after one show, she is surprised to meet former flame Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys).  Enraptured with each other once again, even his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) cannot dim their desires.  Into this mix arrives soldier William Killick (Cillian Murphy) who falls for Vera and marries her.  When William is sent to war, Vera’s newly formed friendship with Caitlin is threatened by Thomas’s presence bringing a surprising change for both women.
Director John Maybury delivers a somewhat un-involving love story exploring the adage that fact is the natural enemy of belief. Less a story about Dylan Thomas, who comes across as being a selfishly unpleasant man, the film seems more interested in its female dynamics.  Not only do they share Dylan’s love, but also the same personalities which help them see through the many tribulations to come.  The setting of the Blitz brings an element of danger to the group, as William’s arrival back home signals a climax to their pressure cooker existence.  Thomas’s refusal to let go of the shadows of past loves shows someone unwilling to acknowledge time has moved on to the detriment of his family.
The cavalier attitude Thomas shows in his relationships appears to reflect the film overall.  Whilst moments are certainly intriguing, the movie doesn’t quite gel.  The character of Dylan Thomas is the main problem as the screenplay never fully connects with the demons obviously driving him.  This in turn leads to the question as to why the women would fall for someone like him as both ladies are very confident in their own skin.  The actors involved are very good, it’s just that once again it seems the fictionalisation of a real person’s life doesn’t fully grab their true personality.  The soundtrack and terrific cinematography give the film a glossy lushness, with some startling imagery papering some of the holes in the script.
Far from perfect, The Edge of Love at least provides an interesting look at how war can change the status quo in relationships.  The great acting ensemble elevate proceedings with the characterisation giving the story some potent realism.  Whether Thomas was as hard as shown here, it perhaps proves a point that films can never compensate for an author’s words on the written page.
Rating out of 10:  6

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