Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

18 June 2004

Plath and the Unlit Oven

I watched Christine Jeffs' Sylvia this afternoon between work and the Justin/Elizabeth party.

The movie isn't very good.  Unfortunately, it turns out to be more melodrama than drama.  There just isn't much in the film that feels universal or interesting apart from the personal drama between Sylvia Plath and her poet husband Ted Hughes.  The emotion is all stuck between them, and I didn't feel any of it.    The film did, however, make me want to read some of Plath's work.  I bet it's really interesting.  If it's anything like the way they reviewed it in the film, it must be really just stunning.  In the film, they refer to her work as cold and calculated but describing horrors.  They talk about her detached quality of writing as she describes her own descent into madness.  It sounds fascinating.  Sylvia, however, is anything but cold and calculated.  It lingers on Paltrow's face and tries to reduce this woman's obvious mental suffering and her continuous breakdowns into an emotional rollercoaster between husband and wife.  The score doesn't help.  It's heavy and syrupy and just weighs on the film, telling us when we should feel bad for her and when we should smile.  It just doesn't work.