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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and real
It's always a tricky one-trying to give a balanced view of a marriage that none of us was part of and in which the only two participants are dead. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the preppy American abroad to a T, and portrays Sylvia's darker and more complex sides with equal aplomb. Daniel Craig gives a charismatic perfromance as Ted, who was famously attractive to women (even if...
Published on 6 Aug 2004 by sam155

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Days of Her Life
A beautifully filmed but skin deep soap opera, Sylvia's like a picture book charting the most important events in Sylvia Plath's life. It's also annoying and tedious in the way it treats her story as romantic melodrama, even suggesting, almost, that she killed herself because she couldn't be with Ted Hughes. The real Plath, I suspect, was much more complicated than this...
Published 17 months ago by Jack Heslop


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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and real, 6 Aug 2004
By 
sam155 (Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
It's always a tricky one-trying to give a balanced view of a marriage that none of us was part of and in which the only two participants are dead. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the preppy American abroad to a T, and portrays Sylvia's darker and more complex sides with equal aplomb. Daniel Craig gives a charismatic perfromance as Ted, who was famously attractive to women (even if you see pictures of him in his later years, he still had those piercing hawk like eyes).
The film portrays the inequality of the early sixties- for all its liberalism, she was always going to be overshadowed by her husband. Despite her intelligence and strong character, she was still Ted's wife to their contemporaries. It would be easy to judge Sylvia for her temper and irrational jealousy, but it must have been agony to have always been that suspicious, traumatised, and angry. It would also be easy to judge Ted and simply condemn his infidelity, but what I liked about this film is that you judge them both. She was wrong, he was wrong and at the same time they were both right. Pretty much how marriage goes.
Little touches of authenticity throughout the film make it all the more real: the dirty squalor of the kitchen when they both worked at Smith, the typical intellectual competitiveness amongst young students in the scene where they recite Shakespeare faster and faster, and the amount of blankets they have on the bed during the cold Cambridge winter.
Throughout the film, the wintry atmosphere reigns and London, always good looking in films, looks frozen and inaccessible as towards the end, Sylvia's mental state reduces her to the erratic, suicidal woman she became. It's an essay on the tragedy of mental illness, a literary biography, and a tender love story. Definitely worth buying.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Colossus, 14 Dec 2006
This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
There are many differing opinions on the marriage of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath and ultimately the makers of `Sylvia' are not going to please everybody. However, the film was not weighted to either Plath's or Hughes' point of view, holding them both up as great poets who had a great connection, however positive or detrimental that might have been. The relationship between Plath and her mother is also beautifully explored, as is the relationship between Plath and poetry. This is not just about the marriage of Ted and Sylvia.

The casting is magnificent. Both Paltrow and Craig give superb performances and the supporting cast are equally commendable. The film is beautifully presented all round. I loved the use of the colours red and blue to indicate different moods (as in Hughes' poem `Red'). The attention to detail (drawind from both Plath's and Hughes' poetry) is astounding.

`Sylvia' is ambitious in what it attempts to convey but I'm not sure the entire audience get the point. I only wish there had been more poetry in it. Watch with an open mind and a hankie.

A wonderful film.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Biopic: Few Punches Are Pulled, 12 Jun 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
As someone who knows nothing about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes I found this film interesting - entertaining in the form of curiosity, voyerism and sympathy.
It's feel is quite similar to Iris, in that it has an Oxbridge dance near the start, has an informal introduction between the two main characters, and shows (her) mental decline over the subsequent 90 minutes. Some find that unsympathetic and tabloidish, some find it dull, some find it depressing, Plath virgins like myself find it subtle and realistic.
The film for me shows both characters as having faults and inspiration. I read that feminists would not accept any criticism of Plath and blame Hughes for her suicide, but surely such a complex woman deserves responsibility for her actions too, though clearly she has a severe mental illness which, through bitter personal experience, takes an iron clasp to one's emotions and subsequent actions.
There is well crafted tension in the piece, particularly in the dinner scene with their frineds in Devon. All conventions for a quiet English cottage life are taken and then stained with the worst emotion possible to any Englisman - embarressment. The music by Gabriel Yared is, as usual, excellent and wonderfully annotates the film with mood and subtext.
Perhaps it's because I'm uncultured in this area that I didn't have a pre-conception of how the film should be. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe hardly any of it is true to life, but in the end it doesn't matter. This is a movie and in my opinion it delivers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poetry and pleasure, 20 Oct 2011
By 
Dr. M. G. Farringdon (Swansea, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
You don't have to be familiar with SYLVIA PLATH'S poetry to enjoy this film, which is a sensitive reconstruction of Sylvia's
life and death in England. The opening shot of SYLVIA pedalling furiously towards her Cambridge College catches the mood of her intense, driven attitude to everything -- whatever she did was full tilt, no half measures. And she wanted a man to match: in Ted Hughes she found her soul-mate -- they met and married in a matter of months - four, if I remember correctly.

And who could play this man who would in the distant future become our POET LAUREATE? Daniel Craig, that's who -- he is all forceful conviction and with the presence to match her intensity. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia with energy, pathos, and conviction. They make a great pair, and together have made a fine film.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Days of Her Life, 11 April 2013
By 
Jack Heslop - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
A beautifully filmed but skin deep soap opera, Sylvia's like a picture book charting the most important events in Sylvia Plath's life. It's also annoying and tedious in the way it treats her story as romantic melodrama, even suggesting, almost, that she killed herself because she couldn't be with Ted Hughes. The real Plath, I suspect, was much more complicated than this portrayal of her, and as someone who's read her work with great admiration it left me unimpressed. Her poems are dark, tough, witty and beautiful, not the bleatings of a jealous, selfish wife, which this film would have us believe.
The narrative begins with Plath meeting Hughes and ends on her suicide, gliding over everything in-between at a rapid yet somehow sluggish pace. Scenes ticking off people and events succeed each other with no real ebb and flow, so what you get is the biopic equivalent of a greatest hits collection. The film may have been deeper and more powerful if it had focused on a single period of Plath's life, developing its characters within a tight structure. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Plath and Daniel Craig is Hughes. I'm not fond of Paltrow as an actress; there's something haughty and false about her that irritates me. To be fair, though, Craig doesn't do well either, and both of them aren't well-supported by a shallow, monotonous screenplay. The best performance is Blythe Danner's as Aurelia Plath, Sylvia's mother; she portrays her as a quiet, sincere, practical woman, and her acting has the subtlety which everything else about this film lacks. Michael Gambon's also effective in a small role near the end, though his character's too inconsequential to really be noteworthy.
There's not a lot of Plath's and Hughes' poetry here, no doubt for legal reasons, though there isn't even much of anyone else's. John Milton and Geoffrey Chaucer are name checked early on, and there's a scene where Plath and Hughes recite monologues with some friends, but apart from that they mostly just allude to poems without truly discussing them. The filmmakers care more about a tragic love story than art or personalities. Compared to other films about writers, like the excellent Capote, Sylvia's embarrassingly depthless.
The best thing about it is Christine Jeff's direction; she frames her shots beautifully, creating rich, stark and colourful images. But this only serves to distance the images from the content, like an empty box with a painted lid. Sylvia's little more than a Mills&Boon-ish romance; if you want to connect with Hughes and Plath, read their poems. They're much more serious and intelligent than this boring soap.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Sheds no light on the myth of Sylvia and Ted, 9 Jan 2010
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This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Much has been written about the marriage of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes and I was hoping that this film would give some real insight into their dynamic. Unfortunately it didn't. Also, given the title of the film, I hoped we would be given more of an understanding of Sylvia - her preoccupations and what she may have gone through during her marriage. However, I didn't come away with anything new at all.

I didn't find myself getting emotionally engaged in their life together and didn't find them particularly convincing as a couple. Having said that, Gwyneth Paltrow was excellent as Sylvia, and managed to portray the mounting despair she feels when the words just aren't coming but Daniel Craig's broody Ted was less believable, Perhaps we were supposed to come away with a view of the marriage from her point of view and so her character was more fleshed out. Neither character was particular likeable or sympathetic and, based on this representation alone, I found it hard to care for either of them at all. Perhaps a little more time should have been spent building up the sense of earlier, happier times in order to show us why they couldn't simply move on from one another later in their relationship. As it was, I couldn't understand why they wouldn't just walk away.

The story presented here of the breakdown of a relationship is not usual in it's structure - initial meeting, infatuation, marriage, jealousy, marital affairs, arguments, break up, recriminations. It wasn't particularly visually appealing and didn't make for an interesting film. I had hoped that we would be given the chance to hear more of the actual poetry but the very small segments we did hear were often run into one another to make them virtually impossible to make out. I understand that the estate would not allow more to be used but it does then make you think: "What's the point in making the film?"
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5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE THIS FILM, 13 May 2014
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This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
it's very heartfelt and sensitive, obviously it's a biographical storyline, but done very tastefully and stylishly. it makes me close to tears every time as i feel for the little babies Plath left behind. Amazing acting by Paltrow and Craig, emotional but one of my favourite films nonetheless
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5.0 out of 5 stars well worth a visit, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
As someone who knew nothing of Sylvia Plath I found this a very interesting and informative dvd. Well worth a viewing for anyone with an interset in people and their lives.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Staid, 23 Nov 2013
This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
A typical biopic of someone who (it is implicitly assumed that) the audience know which fails to enthuse thoroughly. Plath is a bit of a niche 'subject' and those who know of her, tend to know her work and therefore her backstory. This film skimmed the surface. Superficially. The leads were engaging, even if it appears that Hughes (Craig) can't pronounce the name of his home town correctly!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a look, 5 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Sylvia [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Very well acted both actors should have been given awards for this film. Very true to life as the story was told. Very sad at the end
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Sylvia [DVD] [2003]
Sylvia [DVD] [2003] by Christine Jeffs (DVD - 2010)
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