Sylvia Reviews

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David Ansen
Newsweek
November 1, 2007
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Geoff Andrew
Time Out
June 24, 2006
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Jay Boyar
Orlando Sentinel
November 13, 2003
A prestige picture that doesn't have a lot going for it beyond its serious intentions.
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Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
November 12, 2003
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
November 6, 2003
Paltrow does this role exceptionally well, but it is underwritten.
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
November 1, 2003
Cinema and poetry aren't merely disparate art forms but largely incompatible ones.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
October 31, 2003
Falls short of its goal.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
October 31, 2003
Fails to reflect the enormous complexity of the tumultuous relationship between Ted Hughes and Plath.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Eric Harrison
Houston Chronicle
October 31, 2003
By choosing to make Hughes neither a monster nor sympathetic, the film likely will disappoint Plath acolytes while at the same time falling shy of being a revisionist interpretation of their relationship.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
October 31, 2003
An often painful, surprisingly illuminating and emotionally complex portrait of a woman who is ultimately as mysterious as her art.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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October 27, 2003
It's Bleak Chic.
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Desson Thomson
Washington Post
October 24, 2003
Adds precisely nothing of breaking-news value to the Plath-Hughes annals.
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
October 24, 2003
For all the actors' ability, Sylvia never develops a pulse.
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
October 24, 2003
Likely to be equally displeasing to Plath enthusiasts as it will be to neophytes, Sylvia suffers from a strange timidity: It only gets close to its subject by rendering her as a kind of melodramatic archetype.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
October 24, 2003
[Lacks] psychological depth and emotional resonance.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
October 24, 2003
A coy, cautious film about a frank, fearless writer.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
October 24, 2003
The film does what poets so seldom do themselves -- pursue the middle road and leave the path of excess to the less level-headed.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
October 24, 2003
For those who have read the poets and are curious about their lives, Sylvia provides illustrations for the biographies we carry in our minds.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
October 24, 2003
The results are mixed, but noble.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
October 24, 2003
Jeffs' movie flashes too little poetic lightning of its own.
| Original Score: C+
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 24, 2003
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Michael Booth
Denver Post
October 24, 2003
Odd that a story of two such hot-burning lives as Plath and Hughes could leave us so cold.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
October 23, 2003
Offers a wondrously illuminating artistic experience for its ideal audience -- people like me who know a little but not much about the explosive Plath-Hughes fusion of unbridled poetic temperaments in a tauntingly prosaic world.
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
October 23, 2003
Paltrow successfully transmits Plath's mental distress and her desperation to shake off a mounting depression.
| Original Score: 4/5
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
October 23, 2003
So suffocating, so lugubrious is the film that Sylvia didn't need to gas herself to death. Jeffs deprives her of oxygen.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 23, 2003
No one expects this to be the feel-good show of the year, but Jeffs' approach is so maudlin that by the end, Plath won't be the only one who's depressed.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
October 23, 2003
Sylvia's emotional moods should swing from red-hot passion to icy rage. Instead, the movie runs the gamut from tepid to lukewarm.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
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Mark Caro
Chicago Tribune
October 23, 2003
It's a dreary movie about a dreary character, offering little insight into her poetry or the mental illness that ultimately conquered her.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Ron Stringer
L.A. Weekly
October 22, 2003
... more or less take the Hughes line, evoking, through testy dialogue and alternately claustrophobic and idyllic mise en scene, the continuing challenge, and occasional delirium, of marriage to a brilliant manic-depressive.
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
October 22, 2003
It's a little surprising that Sylvia is so conventional, considering that Plath, whatever you think of her work or her life story, openly defied plenty of the '50s conventions.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
October 17, 2003
A standard melodrama that takes its grim tragedy and encases it in a veneer of self-conscious artsyness.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
October 17, 2003
One of the fiercest love stories of the last century is reduced to Star Is Born pap.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Megan Lehmann
New York Post
October 17, 2003
Paltrow is clearly committed to plumbing the depths of Plath's suffering, but this frigid and inaccessible period piece wears its glumness like a shroud.
| Original Score: 2/4
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
October 16, 2003
The lead performances lift the film above melodrama, but they also expose the glaring holes in the screenplay.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
October 16, 2003
It is Plath's writing that represents ... her surest claim on our attention. The makers of Sylvia may, to some degree, have neglected this brilliant, unsettling and tragically foreshortened body of work, but they have not betrayed it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
October 16, 2003
Aside from Paltrow's performance, Sylvia is neither a film so spectacular it shouldn't be missed nor something so tepid you have to stay away.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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John Anderson
Newsday
October 16, 2003
An aerial view, so to speak, of the 20th century's great literary soap.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
October 16, 2003
This is the richest role Paltrow has had since Shakespeare in Love, and she rises to the challenge.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Jessica Winter
Village Voice
October 14, 2003
Ridden with the ankle-spraining lawn divots of the biopic.
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Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
October 3, 2003
An exercise in drudgery, with nothing particularly insightful or revealing to say about the charter member of the Suicidal Poets Society and the artistic endeavor in which she would make her indelible mark.