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The Edge of Love

The Edge of Love

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with Director John Maybury and Actor Matthew Rhys; Interviews with Cast and Crew; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Photo Gallery.

IN MANY ways John Maybury’s The Edge of Love shares a lot in common with Joe Wright’s Atonement, apart from the star presence of leading lady Keira Knightley.

Both films offer visually sumptuous tales of unrequited love during World War II and both feature flawed but involving characters. Knightley even gets to utter the line “come back to me” in both films.

Where Wright’s near-masterpiece was based on a popular novel by Ian McEwan, however, Maybury’s no-less stylish tale was inspired by the film’s producer, Rebekah Gilberton’s decision to explore her own grandparents’ relationship with Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.

Hence, the film examines the tug of love that occurred between Thomas (Matthew Rhys) and the two women in his life: childhood sweetheart Vera (Knightley) and his adventurous wife Caitlin (Miller), as well as the other man caught in between – Captain William Killick (Murphy), whose subsequent experiences on the front line yield serious consequences for all concerned.

For the majority of the time, Maybury’s film is a deeply impressive affair that embroils viewers in its complex story of sexual jealousy and obsessive love. It also boasts some really strong performances with Knightley arguably better in this than Atonement, complete with flawless Welsh accent and a pretty decent singing voice.

Her relationship with Miller’s Caitlin, which becomes integral to the middle section of the film, is a wonderfully absorbing paradox that enables both actresses to thrive in each other’s company (even though Miller’s accent is the one real flaw).

Strong, too, are Cillian Murphy’s brooding soldier, who nails both the romantic heroism of his pre-war courtship and the battle-weary disillusionment of his post-war veteran with effortless aplomb, and Rhys’ self-absorbed poet, whose mischievous philandering and flirting spells dark consequences late on.

Maybury’s direction, meanwhile, is extremely stylish, especially in his use of camera angles and the way that he captures the period detail.

There are some criticisms, of course. Some viewers may have trouble understanding why Thomas was able to hold two such fiercely independent and intelligent women in his thrall, while others are sure to feel that Murphy is allowed to disappear for too long once abroad (there are only cursory shots of him fighting). A better balance might have come from juxtaposing Killick’s ordeal with the ignorant revelry of Thomas and company.

But on the whole this is a fine British movie that expertly conveys an impressive sense of mood, time and place, whilst reaping the rewards of its first-rate cast.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD Release: October 27, 2008