Projections - Movie Reviews


Gwyneth Paltrow brings a certain intellectual and physical conviction into the troubled life of American poet Sylvia Plath in the biopic simply titled Sylvia.

There were reports that Paltrow's late father, Bruce Paltrow, who directed her in Duets which opened many to her vocal talents, suggested she take part in Christine Jeffs' picture which finds meaning from the line, "Discover a love and experience a life you never imagined."

The screenplay by John Brownlow mostly examines her unstable life with her husband, fellow British poet Ted Hughes, played by Daniel Craig from the first Tomb Raider movie.  Jeffs' moody film is rich in imagery, but not as absorbing as The Hours which also linked inspired verse and madness.

Studying in England on a Fulbright scholarship, Sylvia meets Ted and they quickly become passionately devoted to one another.  Marriage ensues and they move to the States where Ted's career is like poetry in motion, but she is blocked from unleashing her creative potential.

Jeffs and Brownlow do some good work in explanation providing details of Sylvia's reaction to her father's death when she was nine years old.  The roots of her depression and ultimately successful suicide at 30 are there in subtle form that manifest gradually in her adulthood.

Sylvia has delusions, or so it seems, of Ted's philandering ways, because of his popularity in literary circles.  Relocating back to England and having a family appears to right the marriage for Ted and Sylvia which happened to be an early title for the film.  But when she actually knows he's in an illicit affair, her emotional state becomes sown in the seeds of darkness.  Yet, she uses her personal torment to write some of her most memorable poems reflected posthumously in "Ariel."

This abbreviated biopic which encompasses more time than Veronica Guerin keeps Sylvia as the focus of the story as she finally reveals that "God is speaking through me."  Paltrow makes this wistful writer and poet interesting as the story concludes a failed reconciliation with a renowned man who wasn't an elixir for the women he became most intimate with.


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