Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE EDGE OF LOVE
Directed by: John Maybury
Running time: 111 minutes
Release date: March 13, 1009 (LA), March 20, 2009 (NY)
Genre: Art/Foreign, Drama, Musical, Romance, War and Adaptation
Distributor: Capitol Films
MPAA Rating: R
The idea of this multi-genre WWII period piece is based on the book by David N. Thomas: "A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow" and "Personal Sketch of Vava and Personal Sketch of Papa" by Esther Killick.
The Edge of Love is a story about a complex relationship between a Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), his wife Caitland (Sienna Miller), a cabaret singer Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) and her eventual husband William Killick (Cillian Murphy). Set during the 1940 London Blitz by the German Luftwaffe night bombings, the preliminary plot focuses on the cabaret entertainment of Vera's singing.
Keira Knightley does her own singing in this film, and I was amazed by the vocal talent she possesses. She commands the screen as a nightclub entertainer who holds many male admirers at a distance. Her actions keep her from having to bother with genuinely deep emotions. However, she runs into charismatic Dylan, the poet who was her first love as a teenager. He introduces Vera to his wife Caitland, and the three free-spirits are connected. This relationship blossoms into a sexually charged haven of decadence. They are living in a morally ambiguous vacuum of desperate anxiety, determined to keep up appearances as the real world -- the world outside the comfortable sanctuary of the cabaret -- prepares for the nightmarish chaos of war.
Eventually, Vera is pursued by a dashing young man named William, who is determined to fight for his country (unlike the academic and non violent Dylan.) A romance blooms with Vera and William; however, Dylan is still involved with Vera. This is not a soft porn movie, but it isn't tremendously subtle either. It does not dumb down the complexities of sexual conflict between the characters. The movie is coy about what's happening, but discreet at the same time.
I found the choral items by Keira Knightley to be quite good in beginning of the film, although these sequences are minimal. The plot has historical significance to balance out the musical dimensions. Each character gave great performances; however, the plot development is distorted and unbalanced.
Unfortunately, the flow of the story shifts to a Fatal Attraction-style thriller with very few surprising twists. It left me empty and wanting more from the exceptionally gifted actors.
The plot whiddles down and begins to have too many drawbacks in the second half of the film. Things go dangerously awry with adulterous flings and jealousy. The couples uncover a labyrinth of deception and a new story begins. I felt like I was watching two different movies rolled into one.
This remarkable musical drama fizzles out to a not so good unpredictable thriller.
FILM RATING (C+)