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The Edge of Love

What She said:

She

Ugh, you ever get one of those frienemies who just latches on and doesn’t let go until they’ve sucked you dry?  Well, that’s what The Edge of Love is all about.  Keira Knightly plays Vera Phillips, a woman who encounters her teenage love Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), who is now a struggling and rather penniless poet (surprise surprise).  The movie takes place during WWII.  So, anyway, Dylan latches on the Vera, playing off of affectionate feelings that she harbors toward him.  But he doesn’t mention the fact that he’s married to Caitlin (Sienna Miller) until she’s already entranced by his charm.  So, enter the wife.  She’s a floozy, a drunk, and a mess, but she also very quickly befriends Vera.  The couple make their way into Vera’s life to the point that they’re literally living off of her, even sharing an apartment.  This messed up triangle is further complicated when Vera settles down with a soldier, William Killick, played by Cillian Murphy, who actually seems like a nice guy.  Too bad they just can’t get rid of Dylan and Caitlin.  So, William gets called off to war, and in the meantime Vera is left alone with the crazy couple and things begin to spin out of control…

This movie was at times annoying, and at other times quite interesting.  You very quickly grow to dislike Dylan, but his shlubby self seems to have a way with the ladies.  He blinds them with his poetic words to get what he wants.  I wonder if he even likes women at all, or if he merely uses them as a muse and as a means of paying the bills.  I don’t think I would have liked the movie were it not for the fact that people like this actually exist.  I really felt bad for poor William.  He’s the real poetic soul of the movie.  While Dylan pretends to experience life, William actually goes out to the frontlines and lives it, and for that he is irreparably scarred.  Cillian Murphy is solid in his acting, as usual, although it seems that him and Keira Knightly are trying to win a skinny contest.  I think their combined weight in this movie is around 140 lbs.  Just terrifying. 

So, if you can get past the fact that there really are several annoying personalities in this film, and concentrate, instead, on seeing things through William’s eyes, this will be a good movie experience.  That said, I wish this movie would have gone a bit further with him, instead of dwelling on the strange relationship between Caitlin and Vera.  A special note: when you watch this movie, pay close attention to the unsaids—the expressions characters swap and even simple one liners.  They tell more of the story than the longer dialogue sequences.

Thumbs mostly up.

 

Walk the Line

 

What he said:

He

This movie is based on the lives of poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller), and their relationship with his childhood friend and onetime love interest Vera (Keira Knightly).

Vera is a singer in a bar where British troops hang out during their downtime. Dylan is a struggling writer who earns his paychecks writing propaganda films, which makes him extremely moody and resentful. One night while drowning his sorrows he bumps into Vera for the first time in years. This encounter establishes a few things.

First, Dylan still has major feelings for his former lover. He is married and has multiple affairs, but always viewed Vera as something special. His wife knows this and when she is introduced to his old friend she is extremely threatened by the fact that Vera is back in his life.  Over time though, the two women develop a genuine friendship that – at times – seems to surpass either of their feelings towards Dylan.  

Additionally, Dylan is something of a loser. Besides being extremely unhappy in his career and marriage, the guy is a major deadbeat. He is something of a leech. After having not see Vera in years, one of the first things he asks her for is money. Initially, it may seem like nothing more than a friend asking another friend for some cash when he was a little short, but it turns out being a major indicator of what kind of person he really is.

You see Dylan and Caitlin like the finer things in life. Despite the fact they may not have very much of their own money, they certainly like the lifestyle that goes along with it. Not much seems to be off limits to these two, as long as it helps them maintain their socialite status.

A soldier named William (Cillian Murphy) seems to fancy Vera, but for some reason she is seemingly disinterested in him. He seems like a pretty decent guy, but she prefers spending most of her time with Dylan and Caitlin; both of whom appear to have no money of their own. They are currently living with Caitlin’s sister and welcome Vera’s steady paycheck into their lives with open arms.

Vera eventually caves to William’s advances and marries him. He never seems too keen on her friends, mostly because he suspects something is going on between Vera and Dylan. But he is soon shipped off to war before anything comes of the issue.

Soon after his departure, Vera realizes she is pregnant. Worried that her career as a singer is over, she moves to the countryside to raise her child. Guess who comes along for the ride too? The three of them move back to a part of Wales where she and Dylan grew up and decide play house. During that time, Dylan’s attempts to woo Vera get more and more pathetic as time goes on. Yet for reasons I cannot comprehend, she eventually falls for him once again.

Things get even more interesting when William returns from war. William is very clearly suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, but also begins to suspect that his biggest fear has actually come true. He even contemplates whether his son is his or not. As you can imagine, this leads to a little baby mama drama between the four of them.

There were a few things I didn’t like about this movie. The pacing felt all wrong. It moved far too quickly in the beginning. There were also some visual choices for this movie I would not have made. It was attempting to by stylistic, but seemed totally out of place. It felt like I was watching a romantic drama version of 300. Thankfully both problems seemed to sort themselves out after a little while. Once it got past that point and focused more on the characters, it became a little more interesting.

Speaking of characters, boy-oh-boy was that Dylan Thomas one. A womanizing drunk who excused his philandering because he contended it helped his artistic career. I kid you not, he actually says that. That takes some big ones to throw that out there.

I must say that Matthew Rhys was excellent portraying this clown though. If you separate the character from the actor’s performance, I will say he did a fantastic job. Every time I saw him on-screen I think I mouthed “I hate you” to myself. Though one critique I had was that I had such a hard time understanding what he was saying. The guy mumbled for a healthy chunk of the movie.

Caitlin wasn’t much better either. She is fully aware of his extracurricular activities and uses them as both a reason to hate him and fuel her motivation for her own personal endeavors. This woman was a total mess. She hates the guy, but totally wusses out when it comes to putting up with his crap. Not once does she appear to even consider leaving him.  I’ve read that her real life counterpart would constantly go to bat for him despite their chaotic relationship.

Then there’s Vera. God only knows why this woman was so interested in hanging out with these two. They are a couple of freeloading losers who drug her down to their level. She was a successful singer who had a seemingly good guy for a husband, but she was drawn to these people. And why? Because they traveled in certain social circles?

That’s one thing I will never get. Why people have such a strong desire to be a part of an in-crowd, regardless of the effects it has on their life, is so far beyond my comprehension I do not have the proper words for it. Who sees losers like this and thinks “Now there’s somebody I want to spend my free time with” ?

This leads me to my last point about this movie. It’s a little hard to stay interested in a movie that has nobody to root for. Sure, there’s Vera’s husband William, but he’s barely in the movie. 90% of the film revolves around 3 very unlikable people. Not 1 or 2, but 3. That’s a whole lot of dislike to go around.  That isn’t exactly compelling to me. Watching the train wreck that was these people’s lives unfold has a certain appeal to it, but can only keep me going so long.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was given the He said, She said seal of approval on August 2, 2011.

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