They were lovers, once. Now, they meet again. It's 1940, there's a war on and he's married.
The film, based on real events, was written by Knightley's mom, Sharman MacDonald, and has the look of a WW II film on a budget and the intimacy of great melodrama. The look is stylized, colors dampened or heightened by memory. What it lacks is a coherent tale to tell and a charismatic Dylan Thomas.
Vera (Knightley) and Mrs. Thomas (Miller) are fast friends, trusting (She won't steal my husband) and cozy enough for the occasional shared bathtub.
All this sexiness is frittered away in a tale that keeps the romance frosty and the Dylan Thomas limited.
Matthew Rhys (TV's Brothers & Sisters) isn't the most magnetic version of the hard-drinking, language-loving Welsh poet. The film doesn't give Rhys enough scenes as Thomas the writer. He's just Dylan the dull womanizer. Why does he do it?
"Because I'm a poet. A poet feeds off life."
Cillian Murphy plays the new man in Vera's life. "I just got posted" is his proposal, so she marries him and he ships off to war, then she and Dylan and Caitlin go live in adjoining cottages on the coast where the scenery is wet and majestic, the relationships strained.
Knightley and Miller are fascinating to watch together -- the one playing a gaunt, porcelain-skinned model of period-piece perfection -- the other an earthier, more sexual creature. But their characters''relationship on the screen is restrained, as if it's been vetted by lawyers. And the film around them is hurt by the underwritten, melodramatic men in it.
Hot starlets in a hot tub may be a selling point, but it's hardly an excuse for an entire movie.
The Edge of Love 3 out of 5 stars Cast: Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy. Director: John Maybury. Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes. Industry rating: R for some sexuality, language and disturbing war images.