With its period wartime setting and highly charged romantic involvements between poet Dylan Thomas, his wife Caitlin and his childhood sweetheart Vera, the scene is set for a tempestuous and passionate exploration of a world in turmoil. The youthful, stellar cast of Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and Matthew Rhys should prove potent chemistry on screen as well as at the box office.
Written by the acclaimed Scottish playwright Sharman Macdonald, and starring her hugely successful daughter Keira Knightley, this is a period romance, charged with provocative undercurrents about art, war and the eternal battle of the sexes.
Knightley looks stunning and appears to have a special empathy with her character of Vera Philips, childhood sweetheart of the poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys). When the two meet again in Blitz-torn London, she discovers that Dylan is married to free spirit Caitlin (Sienna Miller showing her sensitive side in a cleverly nuanced performance).
Meanwhile Vera has caught the eye of a brave soldier William (Cillian Murphy), with whom she is having a loving relationship. Neither she nor Dylan, however, can forget their earlier liaison and soon they are yearning to be together again.
Deftly handled by John Maybury ( The Jacket, Love is the Devil ) the tangle of affections is portrayed with assurance and sensitivity. These are passionate and complex beings, caught up in a maelstrom of emotions and situated in rural Wales while conflict ravages around them.
Maybury also deals with the place of artists and intellectuals in time of war—Dylan was a strong opponent of Britain’s involvement in the Second World War, yet he was forced to become a writer of propaganda to avoid going to the front line.
Although Thomas is, ostensibly, at the heart of things, Maybury gives equal prominence to the women in his life and this choice gives the production its sense of balance.
Cast: Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys
Director: John Maybury
Screenwriter: Sharman Macdonald
Producers: Rebekah Gilbertson, Sarah Radclyffe
Running time: 104 min
Release date: March 13 ltd.