SYLVIA —–“Sometimes I feel like I’m not- –solid. I’m hollow. There’s –nothing behind my eyes. I’m a negative of a person. Its as if I never — I never thought anything. I never wrote – anything. I never felt anything. All I want is blackness. Blackness and silence.”
Long troubled by depression, poet and novelist Sylvia Plath made a number of suicide attempts, finally succeeding in 1963 at the age of 30. Success and acceptance that eluded her in life came posthumously, the intimacy of her works and the tragic dimensions of her story, linked with her husband, celebrated poet Ted Hughes, inspired and succored many who felt shut out and fed a burgeoning legend.
The 2003 film, starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Plath and Daniel Craig as Hughes, covers her life from when they met and married in 1956 until her death. Directed by Christine Jeffs, written by John Brownlow, the scripting leaves out a good deal of material that may have better fleshed the extent of Plath’s traumas (extensive electro-shock therapy, numerous suicide attempts) and doesn’t touch on the controversial Hughes life afterwards. Paltrow, 30, has a real gift for conveying deep hurt (also shown in The Royal Tenenbaums and Proof ) and Craig, 34, three years away from his first outing as James Bond, puts ample energy into his go at Hughes. The compelling work from the talented stars is nonetheless tasked by the salient empathy dilemma that handicaps enjoyment or elucidation in watching two intensely self-absorbed, self-pitying and ultimately selfish people self-destruct.
Produced for approximately $9,217,000, the unavoidably downbeat story failed to attract audiences, grossing just $2,917,393. With Jared Harris, Michael Gambon, Blythe Danner, Amira Casar. 110 minutes.