'The Edge of Love' had been billed as a biopic of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Rhys) but it is more of a drama about his life and loves in which Rhys plays a smaller part than you would expect.
Keira Knightley's face is often regarded as her best asset. Here 'The Edge of Love' director John Maybury uses it and the time period to his advantage as he draws you in to the opening scene.
Yet, it was Knightley's name that helped to get the film made. Sharman Macdonald, who just happens to be the mother of the Oscar-nominated actress, penned the script and Knightley's star quality and contacts helped to get Maybury ('The Jacket') on board. To continue the family theme, the producer Rebekah Gilbertson is the granddaughter of two of the film's principal characters: Vera and William Killick.
Knightley stars as Vera Killick, a singer who entertains those sheltering from the Blitz in London's underground stations. She is reunited with her first love Dylan, who is in the city working on war propaganda films for the government, and generally making the most of his exempt status from military service.
Vera's teenage feelings for Dylan are revived, despite the presence of his free-spirited and promiscuous wife Caitlin (Miller). Although the two women are vying for the attention of Dylan, they develop a close friendship that is at the heart of the film.
The arrival of Captain William Killick (Murphy) into Vera's life disrupts the harmony of the threesome and leaves Dylan wracked with jealously. The two couples become entwined but this ends when William is posted to the front in Greece, however Vera is already pregnant by that point. And war-ravaged London was no place for a pregnant woman, so the trio return to Wales and the austere beauty of Cardigan Bay.
With William away fighting for King and country, Vera becomes closer to Caitlin and, more portentously, Dylan and, as his love for Vera is rekindled, Caitlin indulges in her own infidelities. Wales may be safer than London but the mood of the second half of the film is sombre.
William returns from the front a changed man and finds that his pay has been squandered to fund the others' bohemian lifestyle. Fuelled by alcohol and local gossip, he launches a potentially deadly attack on Dylan.
Lindsay Lohan had been scheduled to play the part of Caitlin but pulled out just before filming, which was a piece of good fortune for Maybury and Macdonald as Miller turns in an impressive performance as Dylan's pleasure-seeking wife. Her Irish accent is weak but she is not alone there as Murphy plays an Englishman and Knightley sports a Welsh lilt.
Miller's on and off-screen lover, Rhys, may not have the main part, but he brilliantly captures Thomas' moody, garrulous personality, of which his wit was the only dry part.
Murphy does a fine, if limited, job as the English officer opposite Knightley, who again shows versatility by singing on camera but never reaches the heights of 'Atonement'.
Maybury delivers a visually striking film and garners fine performances from a talented young cast, but the film as a whole does not match the sum of its parts.