Sylvia (2003)

CHRISTINE JEFFS

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5

United Kingdom2003.  BBC Films, British Film Council, Capitol Films, Focus Features, Ruby Films.  Screenplay by .Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A sad waste of a great opportunity: Gwyneth Paltrow‘s beautiful work as Sylvia Plath, the poet who inspired a half-century of writers to express themselves in the form of confessional poetry, and ‘s solid turn as her unfaithful cipher of a husband Ted Hughes should have been enough to ensure a critical hit. Unfortunately, the director’s unimaginative concentration on Plath’s misery and the lack of her actual work being included (barred by Plath’s daughter Frieda Hughes, who spoke out against the film in public) lessen the complexity of watching this unconventional relationship; instead, the experience is a shallow, soap-operatic melodrama with only great acting and cinematography to its credit. Frieda’s desire to protect her mother from tabloid sensationalism is understandable, but it’s also unfortunate that the very personal work of this powerful author, who shared herself so openly with the world before ending her life so abruptly, could have done such service to this very respectful film and wasn’t able to.

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