November 12, 2003

Gwynie's New Lit Chick Flick

sylvia.jpgWhen the Cinecultist's mother comes to town for a visit attending a chick flick is always a safe bet for cultural activity. After we've exhausted Fifth Avenue near the Park, a Broadway musical and the Met of course. Lucky for CC, neither of us had caught Sylvia yet -- a dramatic biographical women's film about a major figure in literature, aka a lit chick flick. [Not to be confused with chick lit flicks like Bridget Jones's Diary 2.] We cabbed it up to the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, as an alternative to the Angelika Monday night but CC has to put in as an aside, it's really not much of a better art house theater option. 1) The theater is subterranean which always weirds CC out and 2) the cliental/staff look like they might be a rare strain of West side mole people. Not a healthy glow, let alone a tan, in the bunch. Also, 3) our Toblerone paid for by Mom was stale. But, on to the movie.

Sylvia follows Gwyneth "I'm Ready for Oscar 2" Paltrow playing the troubled poetess Sylvia Plath, who when she meets her future poet husband Ted Hughes at a Cambridge party, she bites his cheek. Their marriage is all downhill from there. As other folks have said, the movie is production designed within an inch of its life. Nary a fifties style headband or bit of North England foliage is out of place throughout. However, in a lit chick flick this is a quality we're looking for, as the prettiness on screen can act as a lightening agent for the dour emotions on screen. All of those angry stares at the potentially philandering husband and the long frusterated sighs at the blank typewriter can begin to grate on a person after a while. We did enjoy the quality of the film stock though, the grainyness of the color in the image makes some of the early sequences feel like old home movies which was quite evocative. Also, the scene where Sylvia recites the Wife of Bath for the cows as she floats in a boat down the river tickled our former English major sensibility.

Upon leaving the decrepit theater, CC's Mom commented that the movie made her think "Sylvia snap out of it and quit moping around after this man!" She felt there was too much emphasis put on Sylvia's inability to get over herself. While CC felt the movie very effectively showed how motherhood and being a wife trapped Sylvia and separated her from her artistic ambitions. It all seemed delightfully post-feminist to CC. But that's what happens when you have two movie watchers at the same film -- you get two very different opinions.

Posted by karen at November 12, 2003 7:59 AM