“SYLVIA” (2003) Review
I finally watched SYLVIA on DVD. After all I have heard about the movie, I had expected to be disappointed by it. To be truthful, I found it quite interesting biopic that was especially enhanced by the leads’ performances. But . . .“SYLVIA” was not a perfect film.
The movie’s revelation of the Plath/Hughes courtship, followed by their marriage was very interesting and rather intense. I suspect that many had expected it to take sides in the Plath/Hughes breakup. To its credit, the movie avoided this route. There were no heroes/heroines and villains/villainesses in their marriage . . . just two people who failed to create a successful marriage. In fact, it presented the possibility that both Plath and Hughes had contributed their breakup.
To be honest, I think that Gwenyth Paltrow and Daniel Craig’s performances as Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes had more to do with the movie’s successes than the director, Christine Jeffs or the screenwriter, John Brownlow. Also, both Jared Harris as Al Alvarez and Blythe Danner as Aurelia Plath, gave able support. But it is obvious that this movie belonged to Paltrow and Craig, who brought the intensity of the Plath/Hughes marriage with an honesty and rawness that I sometimes found hard to bear.
But even those two were almost not able to save the movie’s last half hour from sinking into an abyss of unrelenting boredom. I suspect that Jeffs and Brownlow wanted to give the audience an in-depth look into Plath’s emotional descent into suicide, following the break-up of her marriage to Ted Hughes. But I wish they could have paced the movie a little better than what had ended in the movie theaters. Thanks to the last 20 to 30 minutes that seemed to drag the movie’s second half.
Despite the last half hour, I would still recommend “SYLVIA”. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty interesting look into the marriage of the two famous poets. I give it 7 out of 10 stars.