Edinburgh International Film Festival

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Edinburgh International Film Festival

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- A poet, a warrior and their two lovers form a complicated quartet in John Maybury's "The Edge of Love," a story of wartime romance in which fidelity and trust are put to the strictest test. It opened the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The poet is extraordinary Welshman Dylan Thomas, played with echoes of the young Richard Burton by Matthew Rhys, but the film's literary appeal is made broader because of excellent playing by Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller as the main women in his life. Capturing superbly the claustrophobic atmosphere of London in the Blitz during World War II and measuring the irreconcilable differences between love and war and poetry and combat, the film succeeds as a deeply involving study of men and women caught up in a whirlwind beyond their control.

It will take careful marketing for the film to find its audience, but the big names involved, the ongoing fascination with Thomas and excellent music supplied by veteran Angelo Badalamenti all serve it well.

Sharman Macdonald's astute screenplay swiftly sets up the dynamic between the foursome. Thomas is a sweet, gifted man who can be a right bastard. As the film starts, he is writing propaganda films as a conscientious objector. In a London pub, he runs into his childhood sweetheart, Vera (Knightley), who is a talented singer reduced to performances in London Underground stations while the Nazi bombs fall.

To Vera's dismay, Thomas has a cheerfully unfaithful wife, Caitlin (Miller), but the two fast become friends and turn into a threesome. That relationship is disturbed, however, when soldier William Killick (Cillian Murphy) falls in love with Vera and sets out to woo her. The film follows their story as Killick is sent off to battle and Vera becomes pregnant. When the warrior returns much changed, there is a seismic shift that affects all of them.

Maybury draws terrific performances from his cast. Rhys (ABC's "Brothers & Sisters") reads Thomas' poetry wonderfully and plays the Welsh icon with warts and all. Murphy also brings poetry to the role of the warrior.

But the film belongs to the women, with Knightley going from strength to strength (and showing she can sing!) and Miller again proving that she has everything it takes to be a major movie star.

Production: Capitol Films and BBC Films present in association with the Wales Creative IP Fund and Prescience Film Partners 2 a Sarah Radclyffe/Rainy Day Films. Cast: Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy, Matthew Rhys. Director: John Maybury. Screenwriter: Sharman Macdonald. Producers: Rebekah Gilbertson, Sarah Radcliffe. Running time 109 minutes. Executive producer: David Bergstein, Paul Brett, Linda James, Hannah Leader, Nick Hill, Joe Oppenheimer, Tim Smith, David M. Thompson. Director of Photography: Jonathan Freeman. Production Designer: Alan MacDonald. Music: Angelo Badalamenti. Costume designer: April Ferry. Editor: Emma E. Hickox. Sales: Capitol.
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