It’s Satan’s love triangle: choose Keira Knightley or Sienna Miller.
It’s Satan’s love triangle: choose Keira Knightley or Sienna Miller. Or, as Welsh poet Dylan Thomas susses, just hop into a lace-covered bed and ask them both for a cuddle.
Set during the 1940s Blitz, this story from Knightley’s mum, Sharman Macdonald, stems from the reputed romantic relationship Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin shared with Thomas’ childhood friend Vera and her soldier hubby, William Killick.
The tangled mess is largely down to Thomas (an excellent turn from Matthew Rhys) who suffers from Troubled Writer Syndrome, the symptoms of which include: constant aching for childhood sweetheart; abandonment of parental duty; regular bouts of poverty; and pangs of jealousy towards real men.
Despite the messiness, what is crystal clear is that The Edge of Love is a film of real beauty, filled with smoky eyes, alabaster skin and plump, passion-filled lips. And not in a Dita-von-teasing kind of way, but using a visually arresting style that draws out the absolute allures of both lead actresses.
The first shot pushes the rest of the world into the peripheries as it races forward to allow Knightley’s startling red lips to fill the screen as her sweetly sharp voice leaks from between them, while Miller’s feline eyes, framed by upturned dark lashes, dominate the introductory meeting with her face, projecting an instant sense of pure beauty. And speaking of smoky eyes, asthmatics beware – every witty sentence is punctuated by a cigarette sparking up and it’s enough to make you wheezy just watching them.
Killick (Cillian Murphy), the outsider among these wild and wanton spirits, constantly teeters on the edge of their bohemian and fairly ridiculous relationship. He returns from war with the roar of mortar and shells still resonating in his ears only to find the battlefield extended into his domestic life. Vera is now a mother rather than a wife, and to make matters worse he’s surrounded by fops whose biggest concern is whether to order a single or double. It’s at this point that a sputtering film suddenly revs its engines and picks up the pace.
Rhys and Murphy are strongly convincing and even Miller strikes above her consistent note of mediocrity as Caitlin, a woman who can hardly bear to look at the state of her own soul. But, it has to be said, this is one time when Knightley’s all-round performance, not just her striking looks, captures most of the attention, showing a strength and assuredness of character alluded to, but never really fulfilled, in previous roles.
And oddly, her Welsh lilt, so disconcerting at first, ends up making her more appealing, almost more human, than those marble-sucking tones we’ve come to know and fear.
Sounds wet and dull.
Striking and absorbing, with a cast who have collectively raised their game.
Won’t have you on the edge of your seat, but a rich experience nonetheless.