April 01, 2015

Set Fire to the Stars (2014)

Set Fire to the Stars (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Andy Goddard
Country: UK

Movie Review: Co-written by the actor Celyn Jones and the debutant director Andy Goddard, the British drama “Set Fire to the Stars” is a semi-biographical work that showcases the special relationship between the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones) and his big admirer, the American poetry professor John Malcolm Brinnin (Elijah Wood), who also aspired to become a poet and brought Dylan to the US for the first time in 1955. With galloping jazz tunes hovering the attractive black-and-white picture, the film was built from Brinnin’s perspective, depicting the efforts he made to save his hero from an inveterate bohemia and heavy alcoholism. Dylan reveals to be an insecure soul whose wife and starving children keep waiting for him to return home. Acting impulsively and characterized by bluntness in manners, everything can happen when he’s around - from public shame (more frequent) to brilliant interventions. Basically, the interest of the film relies on what the intoxicated Dylan will do next, which might determine the course of the story. The frames are nicely composed but the storytelling is not always expeditious, and on several occasions our struggle to keep focused is as hard as the mission of the hopeless John in trying to avoid that New York ‘kills’ his friend. Notwithstanding, and despite the mentioned quibbles, “Set Fire to the Stars” can give us a good idea of the importance of this particular phase in the protagonists’ lives. Love and hate, plus admiration and frustration, seem to walk hand in hand here. We don’t really come across with the genius of Dylan’s poetry but rather with the personality of the poet itself. The same is valid for the not so stimulating John Brinnin.

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