Watched Jul 15, 2012
A found this a very affecting film. The style is quite schizophrenic, alternating between several styles:
The more conventional scenes involving the relationships between the main characters are much as one would expect from a period piece, although they are still engaging thanks almost entirely to Linus Roache's captivating, energetic performance.
The incredibly evocative, dreamlike visions that accompany Coleridge's poems are an assault of harsh sounds and gorgeous visuals, cut together with flashes of modern day scenes which mirror the imagery of the pieces.
Finally there are the scenes involving the effects of Coleridge's drug-use. At first these seem a little cliched with shaky camera shots and glazed first-person views. However, as the film progresses and we experience more from Coleridge's viewpoint they begin to feel a little less jarring.
The story is interesting though as I have absolutely no knowledge of Coleridge or Wordsworth beyond a few of their most famous poems, I cannot comment on the accuracy. I will say that I am already planning on finding a biography of Coleridge's life as I am very interested to find out just how much of this was based in fact.
As I've mentioned, Roache gives a brilliant performance which imbues Coleridge with many layers and allows for a natural character progression which could easily have been overdone. There are a couple of scenes which could have been a little more understated, but the direction seems to both amplify and compliment Roach's performance. Simply put, a more traditional style of filming would perhaps have made the performance seem incredibly hammy, but here it works well.
Samantha Morton is pitch perfect here and her Sara is a woman whom you like immediately and admire throughout. She manages to be both strong and supportive and the only real shame is that she disappears rather abruptly from the plot and is given no real closure.
John Hannah manages to flesh out Wordsworth well, but there is a sense of foreboding in much of his performance that perhaps should have been avoided, or at least withheld until further into the narrative.
Overall, this film was very enjoyable, if a little frustrating in places and it has certainly piqued my interest in the subject matter.
One final point. When the credits begin to roll at the end, STOP. While I understand the reasoning for including Olivia Newton John's 'Xanadu', it is, tonally, completely out of place and really annoyed me. The final shot of the film before the credits and the various modern day shots scattered throughout make the concept of prophecy quite clear and then Temple takes it that one step too far during the credit sequence. It's uneccesary and even vaguely insulting.