Love, war, and poetry mingle in this dreary retelling of Dylan Thomas's famously tumultuous love life.
Liam Daniel/Capitol Pictures/AP
The love triangle in "The Edge of Love" is more often than not a quadrangle and sometimes even a parallelogram. The film begins in 1940 amid the London Blitz. The bombs serve as an obbligato to the explosions in the lives of Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller), Dylan's childhood girlfriend Vera (Keira Knightley) and Vera's eventual husband, Capt. William Killick (Cillian Murphy).
To its credit, this otherwise dreary slog of a movie doesn't commit the standard biopic mistake. The people in it do not behave as if they already knew that one day a movie would be made about them. In the case of Dylan Thomas, it may not have mattered, since fame, by all accounts, was of less interest to him than carousing.
Surprisingly, he's one of the more sedate revelers here. That honor goes jointly to Vera and Caitlin, who spend so much time giggling and fuming and prancing and imbibing that you wonder why they needed poor Dylan around at all. His poetry, intoned by Rhys and, if I'm not mistaken, by Thomas himself courtesy of some old radio broadcast recordings, functions almost as an afterthought in "The Edge of Love." Dylan, however, is the life of the party compared with William, who is so moony around Vera that he seems lobotomized. When he returns home from the battlefront shellshocked, the surprise is in how little he has changed.
The best thing "The Edge of Love" could do for you is to send you back to Thomas's poetry. Dash this folderol. Open "Under Milk Wood." Grade: C-