Director: Richard Laxton
Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Dominic West .UK. 1h 30m
This glamorized TV movie is the love child of director Richard Laxton, who cleverly used a poignant part of life and relationship between Liz Taylor and Richard Burton to highlight their turbulent relationship and striking personalities.
Set in 1983, the film revolves around Burton and Taylor as they attempt to join forces to star in Noel Coward’s stage play “Private Lives”. After years of marriage, their own addictive personalities and the pressures from the press, they begin to lose their stubborn protective barriers and find some kind of path to recovery together.
The movie opens with Burton’s 50th Birthday party where he’s refusing to drink, as the path to recovery, while refusing to get drunk with his ex wife Taylor, he attempts to sleep the night away while considering her proposal to star together in a new stage play. As they announce the project the powerful press machine becing to speculate about their relationship which is a huge magnet to draw the crowds to the show but the attention begins to push the pair onto a slippery slope of self doubt.
Burton and Taylor were a riveting couple, a lasting Hollywood iconic couple, each a star in their own rights but together a complete explosion of intense emotions and antics. Bonham Carter really understood the task at hand and got to grips with Taylor’s fundamentals, a self absorbed, elegant and impossible alcoholic who enjoyed infuriating and seducing her soulmate.
Dominc West , like many other British actors has a knack of method acting and taking on a near perfect persona of any character, his major contribution to this project is emulating a broken down version of Burton to a tee, but more could have been done to make him “look” like Burton, just to really emphasis the excellence of Bonham Carter who really drives the movie.
There’s been a run of miserable bionics, and yet this more mature and stylistic approach brings to dignified actors together as tribute to very dignified actors! There’s a lot of relationship based drama but the odd surprises chucked in, some fictitious but most faithful to the past and brightens a truncated timeline with a intimate flavor.
“Where did my Antony go? Remember? The man who would have risked everything for me – who did! He tossed it all against the rocks so he could be with me. Where did he go, Richard? Tell me where my FUCKING Antony went!”
For a story about two people who we all thought we knew, there’s so many revelations (some only technically true) though it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day we are left with a wholesome and deeper sense of these two icons that works so well.
Rating: 6 /10
Related: Liz and Dick (2012), Liz (1995)
Lists: Hollywood Couples
Spotlight: Dominic West, Helena Bonha Carter