So continuing my little spurt of Sylvia Plath related posts, I found this lovely film from diretor Christine Jeffs, starring the surprisingly good Gwyneth Paltrow and a young, pre-James Bond sexy Daniel Craig.
The filming is done in that slightly indie, low-ish budget that makes the story believable and genuine - Plath is played well. I usually detest Paltrow ever since Sliding Doors, but perhaps I blame the script for that, and I’m glad to have found her redeemed in this. She captures some of Plaths unique peculiars, how she speaks, how her mood washes across her face, how her depression can be seen rumbling underneath a calm face.
I’m unsure of how the film approached the topic of Hughes; as there is sometimes a bit of a Courtney Love / Kurt Cobain bitterness between followers of either poet, and I think this film serves to un-demonize Hughes from this predatory figure - yes, he’s not perfect, but we can’t hallow Plath as a purely innocent party. Living with depression, and living with someone with depression (especially when both are egotistical, creative poets) must be a clash of titanic measure - yes, we know Plath was wrongly treated, cheated on, electrocuted, lied to whilst suffering from an infamous bout of chronic depression, but it’s not as if she’s a lamb being led to slaughter.
In the film we hear snippets of poems Plath mentions the story behind Lady Lazarus, we hear the smallest section of Daddy - I wish there could have a bit more of her poetry, perhaps as a running motif in some of the beautiful landscape and close-up shots we see. At the end of the day it’s meant to be film about the life of Sylvia Plath, and Plath considered herself nothing without her poetry.
The film should be available on YouTube to watch for free.