Top positive review
Stylish, stagey, stuffy, and stiff.
Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2016
From the moment I saw Keira Knightley impeccably coiffed and lipsticked, I knew we were in for yet another period piece where not a hair--or an emotion--falls out of place. This is a good escape movie when you want to look at pretty scenery and people. But the sum does not add up to its parts. The "menage a trois" is not much of a menage. The relationships are comprised of making arch comments while smoking cigarets and wearing hats. Neither the women's friendship nor the "triangle" are passionate or deep enough to earn any of the angst that follows. Matthew Rhys is a fine actor but he lacks the screen presence to go up against the mesmerizing Cillian Murphy. It was hard to believe that Keira's character would be torn between a drunken brute of middling charisma and this sweet, impossibly beautiful soldier. Perhaps the problem wasn't with the actors, but because the script never gave me a good reason to believe why Kiera's character was passionate about Thomas in the first place. These are all good actors--Sienna was especially good, and Rhys was a convincing Dylan Thomas. But ho hum---why do I care about these shallow, self-absorbed people and their privileged problems? The exception to this was Murphy's soldier. He is always a level above even the best actors, and he always manages to break your heart. (In "Inception," he had the least amount of screen time, but his scene is the one that made everyone cry.) He gives this movie what little heart it has, and for his performance alone, I give it four stars. It's enjoyable for what it is--a nice escape on a rainy afternoon into another time and place, where the people are pretty. But it's not as great as it could have been.