Story of the relationship between the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.
Since her suicide in 1963 at the age of thirty, Sylvia Plath's life, her work, and her marriage to Ted Hughes have been the subject of endless argument, and Plath herself has become a quasi-allegorical figure — a feminist martyr and an icon of poetic misery. Christine Jeff's film is relatively even-handed in its treatment of Hughes (Daniel Craig) and turns its subject from a case study in literary pathology into the heroine of a modern literary opera. The film, shot in dark, over-saturated colors by John Toon, is itself oversaturated with feeling. Rather than try to explain Plath s death, or probe the roots of her poetry, Ms. Jeffs and Gwenyth Paltrow burrow deep into her personality, leaving its essential, unsettling mysteries intact. Ms. Paltrow is a vivid, passionate presence throughout the film — she is rarely off the screen — and she charts the jagged course of Plath's abbreviated adulthood with ardor and intelligence. The movie turns biography into melodrama, but it does so out of a fierce, fascinated loyalty to Plath, who after all did much the same thing in her best poems. — A. O. Scott
2003-10-17 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Sylvia