The Edge of Love (4 stars)

The Edge of Love

(15) 110min


Dylan Thomas, he of the milk wood, once remarked that: ‘When one burns one’s bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.’ The Edge of Love is the story of how the great Welsh poet burnt a very big bridge, one that connected him to an early love.

London during the blitz, Welsh chanteuse Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) is making a living singing with a band down the underground stations, which have become impromptu air raid shelters. One evening she happens upon old friend and lover Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys). The spark is still there but Thomas’ muse is now his high-spirited wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller). Vera connects deeply with Caitlin and the three soon become a nihilistic little crew fronted by the charismatic poet. When Vera meets and falls in love with young officer William Killick (Cillian Murphy), however, the group dynamics begin to shift in unpleasant ways.

Based around real events related by the granddaughter of Vera and William to writer Sharman MacDonald, this is an arresting, gorgeously designed and costumed tale of near gothic consumption, selfishness, promiscuity and madness. The treachery and brutality of war is everywhere, Thomas’s middle class alcoholic immaturity contrasting constantly with that of Killick, the war hero whose generous soul is eroded by the bloodbath of the battlefield. The acting here is very good (Rhys’ fat-headed ‘Dulan’ is a particular treat) and while The Edge of Love represents a return to the form of 1998’s Love is the Devil for Maybury, his direction of the film is solid but largely uninspired (his recent endeavors into television have clearly cramped his once more experimental style).

The thing that is everything here is MacDonald’s screenplay and it does not disappoint for a second. It is musical, in a way that only Welsh inflected dialogue can be, clever, funny, insightful and full of killer lines. Rarely have ideas about the boundaries of female friendship and the hold that memories have over us all been so acutely orientated.

Selected release from Fri 27 Jun.

The Edge of Love

  • 4 stars
  • 2008
  • UK
  • 1h 50min
  • 15
  • Directed by: John Maybury
  • Written by: Sharman Macdonald
  • Cast: Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy, Matthew Rhys

Welsh chanteuse Vera Phillips (Knightley) happens upon old lover Dylan Thomas (Rhys) who is now married to Caitlin (Miller). They become a firm threesome until Vera falls in love with young officer (Murphy) and group dynamics shift unpleasantly. Based around real events, Maybury's film is clever, funny, insightful and…