Sylvia (2003)



Critic Consensus: This biopic about Sylvia Plath doesn't rise above the level of highbrow melodrama.

Movie Info

The life of poet and novelist Sylvia Plath -- one of the most celebrated literary figures of her generation -- is brought to the screen in this controversial screen adaptation. Born in Boston, MA, in 1932, Plath (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) developed a precocious talent as a writer and published her first poem when she was only eight years old. That same year, tragedy introduced itself into her life as Plath was forced to confront the unexpected death of her father. In 1950, she began studying at … More

Rating: R (for sexuality/nudity and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Brownlow
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 10, 2004
Box Office: $1.2M
Focus Features - Official Site



as Sylvia Plath

as Ted Hughes

as Al Alvarez

as Aurelia Plath

as Professor Thomas

as Assia Wevill

as David Wevill

as Martha Bergstrom

as Morecambe

as Elizabeth

as James Michie

as Mr. Robinson

as Charles Langridge

as Michael Boddy

as Myra Norris

as Tom Hadley-Clarke

as Tom's Girlfriend

as Young American Girl ...

as Ted's Cambridge Girl...

as Midwife

as 1st Woman at Ted Hug...

as 2nd Woman at Ted Hug...

as 3rd Woman at Ted Hug...

as Telegram Boy

as Baby Nicholas

as Baby Nicholas

as Infant Frieda
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Sylvia

All Critics (137) | Top Critics (40)

A Hollywood product that exploits sickness.

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

Plath might have been the stupid cow that Paltrow plays, the stubbornly ambitious, jealous demonbit genius discontent, immune to the ordinary joys of life.

| November 25, 2007
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Gwyneth Paltrow is anything but engaging in this rarely interesting look at the life of author Sylvia Plath.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
Cinema Sight

Gwyneth Paltrow is a shining star and plays a faultless dramatic role.

Full Review… | July 20, 2004

Paltrow provides the depth that the script lacks, making a lot from very little.

Full Review… | April 20, 2004

When it's all said and done, Plath had the courage of her convictions, and so does this honest movie.

Full Review… | February 9, 2004

Audience Reviews for Sylvia


A very tender and dark little biopic that skims the surface of the sensitive and prolific poet and author Sylvia Plath. The film itself was bleak, wounding around the life of Plath, but more than anything also focused on her lover and husband Ted Hughes. Everything is dark angles and gilt mirrors with the poignant performance from lead Gwyneth Paltrow. She is yet again playing a British woman in a destructive relationship, except there is definitely a power play between herself and her husband. Both are poets, both want to be taken seriously, and both have the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. In the film Paltrow showcases Plath's irrelevancy next to her husband's broad fame among the intellectuals and middle class alike. He is dashingly handsome, and ends up romancing many of their female acquaintances, which only drives Plath madder than she already is as a result. Worse, is that he retains the fame whilst she is still struggling to write anything at all. She feels dwarfed in his huge shadow, and the film does a great job of illustrating how isolated Plath was by making her seem small among the darkness of the cinematography. There is little to no light in this entire film. Both Paltrow and her leading man, Daniel Craig, are entirely enshrouded in shadow throughout this film, even when it's supposed to be day. When the sun shines, it's bleak and oppressive,which was highly unrealistic, and gave us the feeling that Plath must have gone through a period of listless hatred, even in the company of her two children. Her erratic behavior lent little in the film, except for the brief scene in the beginning, but she does confide her feelings to an ardent supporter, played by the great character actor Jared Harris. What doesn't work in this film is that there isn't any buildup to Plath's suicide. The ending feels anticlimactic, mostly because her husband isn't assigned any dimensions except that of a vicarious jerk. He flits in and out of the story, only to give her children and make her miserable, but at the end he's only a face in the crowd of onlookers. There was nothing traumatic about this film, nothing to cling to Plath as a person, or the ideals of her work. There just could have been so much more done with the script and the way it was shot, and that really was just underwhelming for me as a viewer.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

This movie was very interesting. It was a bit dry at points, but was so intriguing that it kept my complete attention. The psychology of the two main characters was amazing, and the movie was done brilliantly. Also, seeing Paltrow in a new role like this was phenomenal, and very surprising. I think that she did a wonderful job depicting this very, very sad woman. Kudos!

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Sylvia stars, Gwyneth Paltrow as the American poet and Daniel Craig as her husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes. It begins with their meeting in Cambridge and ends with Plath's death in 1963, so it essentially follows the course of their relationship, Plath's struggle to write and with the break-up of their marriage, Plath's original but tortured out-pourings, breakdown and death.Gwyneth plays the part quite well she gives a touching performance in my opinion

♥Robyn M♥

Super Reviewer

Sylvia Quotes

– Submitted by In Your D (3 years ago)

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