Tuesday, October 05, 2004

sylvia | the film

It took three separate viewings before I felt I could say anything about the film “Sylvia” starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath and Daniel Craig as Ted Hughes, and it was only after reading yet more biographies, both of Plath and Hughes that I felt I could comment with any authority.

The film is lukewarm at best, and though technically it gets many of the major details correct, what it lacks and what it does not show with any real authoritative voice is the passion that existed between the two and the real despair. Paltrow is somewhat believable as Plath, though an odd choice for the role, given her build; Plath herself was a big-boned girl, not fat or overweight, but large boned, and long in the bone and rather Teutonic in some ways, a real pin-up (which she actually did for a few silly articles while at Smith for which she posed in some cheesecake shots in a bathing suit). Paltrow is too watery to thin, though her performance is what carries this film through. Perhaps because Paltrow had, so recently before shooting began, lost her own father that she was able to plumb the depths and really get to the core of Plath’s serious depression and downward spirals. Her tears are convincing, and under the circumstances, one could believe, likely real. What’s more, Plath as we all know, had a real daddy thing, and that Paltrow had lost her own father would no doubt have helped her relate to such a trying role as Sylvia must have been.