TOM & VIV
DIRECTOR: BRIAN GILBERT
COUNTRY: ENGLAND 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: MARTIN FUHRER
MUSIC: DEBBIE WISEMAN
CAST: Willem Dafoe(T.S. Elliot), Miranda Richardson(Vivienne), Rosemary Harris, Tim Dutton,
SUPER FEATURES: Nice film. Not enough poetry.
If there is one thing missing in this film, and it is my view, it is that the poetry is never matched to the lives in the film. While much of T. S. Elliot's poetry seemed to have been aloof, that is, not exactly describing the life around him, it certainly had enough hints of what was going on and what happened, to hint at what made this man create such wonderful works of poetry and writing.
That aside, we have a story about a man that married a woman with a terrible hormone imbalance, who eventually has to be instituted for her own sake. It doesn't exactly make for a happy family, but it does help Tom write more, and get some serious work done, as opposed to having to be worried about his wife and her goings on, which are not at all favorable to many aspects of the social space they live in. Not to mention that Tom is believed by her family to have married into it just for the money and the estate holdings. They should be proud now to have married literary history instead.
The characterizations in the film are strong, and the acting is serious. But, my preference, may have been to hear some lines that made sense, rather than a depressing story of class, family and religious battles. Tom is an American and an outsider. Which no doubt helps in his ability to write.
Willem Dafoe as T. S. Elliot, is good, if not a bit worried, and overly worried about his life, something different I remember from the early sixties, when I remember a frail man, whose internal constitution was strong, but his wit was quick, and quiet. He was, by then, much more carefree and quiet inside I suppose. He had grown into his role as
writer, and thinker. The portrayal of the young Elliot, tends to create an image of a disturbed man, who had some serious hassles around him, despite which, he still was able to create his work.
Miranda Richardson is very theatrical as Viv. The role is hard, because it seems to be define around the lines she has to deliver, instead of a body/physical condition she suffers from. Miranda does well, and makes the film interesting, but does not save it from the doldrums, the kind that make you wonder, what is this film about anyway.?
And really, in the end, we do not even have a clear connection between the writer and the writing. Oh, yes, we do see him publishing one of his works, but never did we really feel that it meant anything to him as a writer. It was the thing to do, when a publisher couldn't be found. The film might have been longer, and a bit somber in the middle, but a few
lines here and there, might have added a lighter, more subtle, more loving, mind of this great poet, than the image of a troubled man that felt guilty because his wife was sick, and had to be put away. Sad indeed, but then, life goes on, and T. S. Elliot did as well. We never got to see this part.
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