starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig, Jared Harris, Amira Casar, Andrew Havill, Sam Troughton, Lucy Davenport, Antony Trachan, Blythe Danner and Michael Gambon
written by John Brownlow
directed by Christine Jeffs
I wanted to see this movie because since university Sylvia Plath has been one of my favorite poets. I am less keen on her now, though, and looking back, I have to admit that I didn’t really get her. I suppose I was more attracted to the mystique of her personality - one of the die-young-stay-pretty modern pop culture icons that include the likes of James Dean, Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Curt Cobain, etc.
It is a good film. Gwyneth Paltrow is a powerful actress. But I was disappointed that this movie did not dramatize her poetic genius and her poetic accomplishment. Instead, the focus remained on the Ted Hughes-Sylvia Plath love story. And why not? A passionate love story like theirs lends itself to drama and is better viewing for an audience. But simultaneously with their love was the troubled relationship between the successful poet and his wife struggling to be her own self, apart from her more famous husband.
Sadly, this film does nothing to shed light on Plath’s poetic genius. And, it is a really depressing movie just from a visual perspective - filled with dark sets and scenery, rain, fog, rotting wooden British dwellings, bare, cold, stone British dwellings, foggy moors, and lots of woolen clothing. Ugh!!
Why was Sylvia Plath such a great poet? Hmmm. I’m not sure. Maybe because of her adept use of imagery and the cool way she expressed psychological horrors. Feminists have long been attracted to her for the combative sexual imagery she uses - as in her famous poem “Daddy,” for example. Her masterpiece, Ariel - a copy of which I think I still have - was published by her ex-husband after her death in February, 1963.
Coincidentally, just after watching Sylvia, I learned that Daniel Craig (Ted Hughes) has been just chosen to replace Pierce Brosnan as the new James Bond. I want to see how he does in that. I don’t think he looks a suave as Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan. To me he looks more like a longshoreman stuffed into a suit with a necktie and looking perpetually uncomfortable.