SYLVIA Add To My Top 10

Content -4
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: October 17, 2003

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig, Jared Harris, Blythe Danne, Michael Gambon, and Amira Casar

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Lisa A.
Rice SYLVIA is the depressing
portrayal of the true-life
story of poet Sylvia Plath and
her marriage to Ted Hughes,
who was an acclaimed poet in
contrast to Ms. Plath’s
unsteady and tumultuous path
of popularity. The American
Plath meets Hughes in England.
Marriage and two children
follow a short courtship, but
the relationship is tumultuous
and eventually flounders due
to Sylvia's emotional
instability, followed by her
husband's desertion to another
woman. Sylvia had tried
suicide at least once before
meeting Hughes, and she
succeeded in 1963, less than a
decade after they met.
Whatever fame she achieved in
her life has been eclipsed by
what one viewer describes as
“a cottage industry of
people studying her
relationship with Hughes, an
activity more important to
some than her very fine poems
and her most famous book, a
novel, The Bell Jar. In short,
the real Sylvia Plath, whoever
she was, has been
hijacked.” The movie begins
with Sylvia saying, “Dying
is an art. Like everything
else I do exceptionally well.
So it feels like hell, it
feels real. I believe I have a
call.” Sylvia proceeds to
meet Ted Hughes, whose poetry
she adores. The two fall in
love and marry pretty quickly.
Soon, Sylvia confesses that
she’s tried to take her life
several times, but that she
rose up again each time, like
Lazarus. She calls herself,
“Lady Lazarus.” Ted meets
Sylvia’s high-society
mother, who warns him that her
daughter is fragile and that
he must be good to her. The
young married couple decides
to spend the summer in a
quaint beach house, in order
to write. Ted writes, and gets
his work published, while
Sylvia struggles with
continual writer’s block and
the demons of her past. Sylvia
confesses that she’s
struggled with chronic
depression, insane jealousy,
and suicide ever since her
father died when she was
nine. Ted insists that Sylvia
write more, annoyed that she
bakes instead of composing
verse. He's supportive but
also blind to the deepening
reality that he is dealing
with a woman who needs help
– deep, ongoing help and a
radical spiritual
transformation. As the movie
progresses and Sylvia’s
inner anger, angst, and
depression continue to unfold,
audiences wonder whether or
not her accusations against
her husband are delusions,
whether her two beautiful
young children can fill the
void in her heart, and whether
or not she’ll be able to
live in her mad inner world.
Gwynneth Paltrow artfully
plays the role of a wife,
mother, and poet who slowly
loses her mind, and eventually
control of her
life. Incidentally, after
Sylvia’s death, Hughes
inherits his wife's estate and
oversees the posthumous
publication of Ariel, one of
Sylvia's most enduring
legacies. A man who only
wanted to be a first-rate
poet, he became (and still is
post mortem) the subject of
arguments as to his treatment
of Sylvia and his
responsibility for her taking
her life. According to one
viewer, Hughes survived to
publish many fine poems, and
he became poet laureate of
England, a post he both sought
and enjoyed (Hughes was one of
the very few modern and
relatively young intellectuals
who was a convinced
monarchist). Not long before
succumbing to cancer, Hughes
published Birthday Letters, an
attempt to show through years
of verse the nature of his
relationship with Sylvia.
Whether viewed as an apologia,
last record, or a chance to
give his side, this work has
found much acclaim over the
past decade. SYLVIA has
gorgeous cinematography,
stellar actors, and
commendable directing, but
like the recent movies THE
HOURS and THE HUMAN STAIN, the
message in SYLVIA is that
suicide is a viable, though
regrettable, option for
chronic depression. Further,
these movies seem to say that
if one is an intellectual, he
or she should obviously abide
in a continual dark funk,
because that shows one’s
brilliance. Optimism and hope
are clearly for the
bourgeoisie and the simple
minded. Like the upcoming
film, BEYOND BORDERS, the
protagonist makes the
incredible and horrifying
choice to leave her beautiful
children to pursue her own
selfish ends. After all, is
not suicide the ultimate
selfish act – the choice of
a permanent solution to a
temporary problem? One
“friend” in the movie says
something like, “Sylvia,
death is not a door, or a
homecoming, or a reunion. It
is just nothing.” Throughout
the movie, many viewers,
especially Christian viewers,
might wonder why there was no
one at all who took the time
and effort to reach into
Sylvia’s miry pit and invite
her to meet the Lover of her
soul. Was there no one to say,
“Come and meet my Friend. He
will make you lie down in
green pastures; he will lead
you beside still waters. He
will restore your soul.”
Believers everywhere should
pray that such movies do not
drive depressed and aimless
viewers into suicide. It is a
serious reality that
impressionable audiences often
mimic the detestable practices
portrayed on the silver
screen. In addition to
embracing suicide as an
option, the movie highlights
adultery, child neglect,
fornication, and substance
abuse. There are several sex
scenes that show full female
nudity and partial male
nudity, and there are nearly
30 obscenities and profanities
in the film. Overall, moral
audiences will likely avoid
SYLVIA. Hopefully, all
children and emotionally
unstable people will find
brighter fare for their winter
viewing. Please address your
comments to: David Linde and
James
Schamus Co-President Focus
Features 100 North Crescent
Drive, Garden Level Beverly
Hills, CA 90210 Phone: (310)
385-4000 Fax: (310)
385-4408 Website:
www.focusfeatures.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 110 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(PaPa, Ro, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, DD, MM) Strongly pagan worldview with the underlying message that life is meaningless and hopeless, that suicide is a viable answer to depression, with relativistic decisions made with no indication of a system of absolutes; strong language with nine mild obscenities, nine strong obscenities, and nine profanities; violence includes man slapping woman, woman slapping man, and suicide attempts and suicide preparations shown; several sex scenes, including full female nudity and rear male nudity; several portrayals of alcohol; some portrayals of smoking; several portrayals of drug use and abuse; and positive portrayal of suicide and neglect of children.

GENRE: Drama

PaPa

Ro

LLL

VV

SS

NN

A

DD

MM

Summary:

SYLVIA is the depressing story of 20th Century poet Sylvia Plath, a woman hounded by chronic depression, insane jealousy, and thoughts of suicide. With foul language, sex, and a deplorable worldview, moral audiences will surely find plenty of lighter, more acceptable viewing alternatives this year.

Review:

SYLVIA is the depressing portrayal of the true-life story of poet Sylvia Plath and her marriage to Ted Hughes, who was an acclaimed poet in contrast to Ms. Plath’s unsteady and tumultuous path of popularity. The American Plath meets Hughes in England. Marriage and two children follow a short courtship, but the relationship is tumultuous and eventually flounders due to Sylvia's emotional instability, followed by her husband's desertion to another woman.

Sylvia had tried suicide at least once before meeting Hughes, and she succeeded in 1963, less than a decade after they met. Whatever fame she achieved in her life has been eclipsed by what one viewer describes as “a cottage industry of people studying her relationship with Hughes, an activity more important to some than her very fine poems and her most famous book, a novel, The Bell Jar. In short, the real Sylvia Plath, whoever she was, has been hijacked.”

The movie begins with Sylvia saying, “Dying is an art. Like everything else I do exceptionally well. So it feels like hell, it feels real. I believe I have a call.” Sylvia proceeds to meet Ted Hughes, whose poetry she adores. The two fall in love and marry pretty quickly. Soon, Sylvia confesses that she’s tried to take her life several times, but that she rose up again each time, like Lazarus. She calls herself, “Lady Lazarus.”

Ted meets Sylvia’s high-society mother, who warns him that her daughter is fragile and that he must be good to her. The young married couple decides to spend the summer in a quaint beach house, in order to write. Ted writes, and gets his work published, while Sylvia struggles with continual writer’s block and the demons of her past. Sylvia confesses that she’s struggled with chronic depression, insane jealousy, and suicide ever since her father died when she was nine.

Ted insists that Sylvia write more, annoyed that she bakes instead of composing verse. He's supportive but also blind to the deepening reality that he is dealing with a woman who needs help – deep, ongoing help and a radical spiritual transformation. As the movie progresses and Sylvia’s inner anger, angst, and depression continue to unfold, audiences wonder whether or not her accusations against her husband are delusions, whether her two beautiful young children can fill the void in her heart, and whether or not she’ll be able to live in her mad inner world. Gwynneth Paltrow artfully plays the role of a wife, mother, and poet who slowly loses her mind, and eventually control of her life.

Incidentally, after Sylvia’s death, Hughes inherits his wife's estate and oversees the posthumous publication of Ariel, one of Sylvia's most enduring legacies. A man who only wanted to be a first-rate poet, he became (and still is post mortem) the subject of arguments as to his treatment of Sylvia and his responsibility for her taking her life. According to one viewer, Hughes survived to publish many fine poems, and he became poet laureate of England, a post he both sought and enjoyed (Hughes was one of the very few modern and relatively young intellectuals who was a convinced monarchist).

Not long before succumbing to cancer, Hughes published Birthday Letters, an attempt to show through years of verse the nature of his relationship with Sylvia. Whether viewed as an apologia, last record, or a chance to give his side, this work has found much acclaim over the past decade.

SYLVIA has gorgeous cinematography, stellar actors, and commendable directing, but like the recent movies THE HOURS and THE HUMAN STAIN, the message in SYLVIA is that suicide is a viable, though regrettable, option for chronic depression. Further, these movies seem to say that if one is an intellectual, he or she should obviously abide in a continual dark funk, because that shows one’s brilliance. Optimism and hope are clearly for the bourgeoisie and the simple minded.

Like the upcoming film, BEYOND BORDERS, the protagonist makes the incredible and horrifying choice to leave her beautiful children to pursue her own selfish ends. After all, is not suicide the ultimate selfish act – the choice of a permanent solution to a temporary problem? One “friend” in the movie says something like, “Sylvia, death is not a door, or a homecoming, or a reunion. It is just nothing.”

Throughout the movie, many viewers, especially Christian viewers, might wonder why there was no one at all who took the time and effort to reach into Sylvia’s miry pit and invite her to meet the Lover of her soul. Was there no one to say, “Come and meet my Friend. He will make you lie down in green pastures; he will lead you beside still waters. He will restore your soul.” Believers everywhere should pray that such movies do not drive depressed and aimless viewers into suicide. It is a serious reality that impressionable audiences often mimic the detestable practices portrayed on the silver screen.

In addition to embracing suicide as an option, the movie highlights adultery, child neglect, fornication, and substance abuse. There are several sex scenes that show full female nudity and partial male nudity, and there are nearly 30 obscenities and profanities in the film. Overall, moral audiences will likely avoid SYLVIA. Hopefully, all children and emotionally unstable people will find brighter fare for their winter viewing.

Please address your comments to:

David Linde and James Schamus

Co-President

Focus Features

100 North Crescent Drive, Garden Level

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Phone: (310) 385-4000

Fax: (310) 385-4408

Website: www.focusfeatures.com

SUMMARY: SYLVIA is the depressing story of 20th Century poet Sylvia Plath, a woman hounded by chronic depression, insane jealousy, and thoughts of suicide. With foul language, sex, and a deplorable worldview, moral audiences will surely find plenty of lighter, more acceptable viewing alternatives this year.

In Brief: