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"SYLVIA"
(2003) (Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate None Heavy Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None Mild None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Mild Heavy Heavy Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Famed poet Sylvia Plath must deal with professional and personal insecurities that eventually drive her to the brink of self-destruction.
PLOT:
It's 1956 and Sylvia Plath (GWYNETH PALTROW) is a student at Cambridge. A hopeful poet, she's discouraged by a scathing review of her work by Edward "Ted" James Hughes (DANIEL CRAIG). Yet, when she eventually meets the fellow poet, she's instantly enamored with him, as are many ladies.

They're soon married and headed for America where he meets Sylvia's wary mother, Aurelia (BLYTHE DANNER), who reminds him to always be good to her, a point that's significant considering her past suicide attempts. The two settle in, but Sylvia is afflicted by a bad case of writer's block as well as jealousy of Ted's success and what she thinks are womanizing ways.

Despite the encouragement of Al Alvarez (JARED HARRIS) and later her downstairs neighbor, Professor Thomas (MICHAEL GAMBON), Sylvia soon begins a downward spiral into depression that eventually drives her to the brink of self-destruction.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or the real life inspiration for the film, it doesn't seem very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For sexuality/nudity and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • GWYNETH PALTROW plays the real-life, suicidal poet Sylvia Plath who becomes progressively insecure and depressed in her personal and professional life. She has sex with Ted before marrying him and uses some strong profanity.
  • DANIEL CRAIG plays her moody husband, a more successful poet who isn't always nice to her and eventually cheats on her. He uses strong profanity and smokes a few times.
  • BLYTHE DANNER plays Sylvia's mother who isn't sure about Ted being right for her daughter.
  • JARED HARRIS plays a man who encourages Sylvia and her work.
  • MICHAEL GAMBON plays Sylvia's older downstairs neighbor who befriends her later in the film.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 7 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are used. Sexually explicit dialogue is present, as are several sex scenes with movement, sounds and varying degrees of brief nudity.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some drink and/or smoke. A person commits suicide off-camera (head in an unlit gas oven), while there's talk of previous suicide attempts. Violence includes some angry moments, including a man slamming a woman back into a wall. That also involves tense family moments that eventually lead to a marital separation.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, a sequence where the camera bobs up and down on a boat might be a bit much.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Miscellaneous people have drinks at a party where Ted has a beer.
  • Miscellaneous people drink.
  • People have wine at a party where Ted says he needs a drink (in reaction to women fawning over the sound of his voice).
  • People have wine at a reception.
  • People have drinks at a reception.
  • Sylvia, Ted and another couple have wine with dinner. All but Sylvia have more.
  • Ted and another man drink.
  • Sylvia pours wine for Ted and herself.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • We see that Ted has passionately kissed Sylvia while at a party with another woman.
  • A critic or editor, not knowing he's talking to Sylvia, says she's not in the same league as other poets and then feels sorry for her, saying it can't be easy for her to be married to Ted.
  • Sylvia slaps Ted who in turn slams her back against a wall and slaps her.
  • Sylvia makes an ugly jealous scene in front of another couple.
  • While Ted is gone, Sylvia rifles through his things, and then tears up and burns many of his papers, etc.
  • Ted cheats on Sylvia.
  • A woman commits suicide, leaving her two young children motherless.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" might also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Sylvia pours many pills into her hand, but then ends up only taking one.
  • Since we know that a character is going to commit suicide, the moments leading up to that might be a little disturbing or suspenseful to some viewers (we don't see the actual act of inhaling gas fumes from the unlit oven, but do see the covered body being carried out on a stretcher).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck is going on?" "F*ck all," "Who the hell /do they think they are/are you?" "Just bugger off," "Hags," "Bloody," "You bastard" and "You must think I'm a stupid American bitch."
  • Depressed and/or otherwise troubled kids might contemplate or attempt suicide.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 7 "f" words (4 used sexually), 4 "s" words, 3 hells, 2 buggers, 1 damn, 2 uses each of "For Christ's sakes," "Jesus Christ," "Oh God" and "Oh my God" and 1 use each of "For God's sakes," "God," "Good God," "My God" and "Oh Jesus Christ."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Sylvia and Ted do some brief, passionate kissing (while standing and clothed).
  • We see several shots of Ted and Sylvia having sex (in a great deal of shadows with movement and some sounds). We see part of her bare butt while she's on top of him. He then gets on top of her and we see full and head and shoulders shots of them (again, in a great deal of shadows). We then see them in bed together afterwards (just a head shot).
  • We briefly see Sylvia in a late 1950s era bikini.
  • Noting that Sylvia is jealous, Ted asks her (about a student of his), "You think I'm f*cking her?" Sylvia replies, "Are you?" Later, he tells her, "As a matter of fact, I'm not f*cking her, but if I do start f*cking my students, you'll be the first to know."
  • We briefly see full frontal nudity of a male infant.
  • We see Ted having sex with another woman up against the wall (her leg is along his side and his hand is briefly down at his or her crotch before they start). We then see a head and shoulders shot of them having sex with passionate kissing, thrusting and related sounds, but no nudity.
  • Sylvia asks Ted (about another woman), "Are you still f*cking her?" (he doesn't answer).
  • Sylvia tells a male associate that she's thinking of taking a male lover (looking at him, but nothing happens).
  • Sylvia and Ted passionately kiss and we then see several views of them having sex. She's straddling his lap on the sofa and we see a rear (her bare butt) and side (bare breasts) view of them having sex with movement and sounds. After they're done, we see them lying intertwined on the sofa (completely nude) but due to the positioning of their bodies, we don't see anything more than the side of his bare butt. Later, however, we see her bare breasts as she sits on the sofa by herself.
  • Ted admits that his lover his pregnant.
  • SMOKING
  • Ted smokes twice, Sylvia smokes once and some miscellaneous people smoke in several scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Sylvia isn't happy about how her mom views Ted and asks her, "Why can't you ever be pleased for me?"
  • Sylvia mentions that she was always happy up until the age of 9, which is when her father died.
  • Sylvia slaps Ted who in turn slams her back against a wall and slaps her.
  • Sylvia and Ted's marriage becomes progressively strained until she eventually moves away with their two kids.
  • A man must deal with his estranged wife's suicide.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Suicide - a person commits it (off-camera) and there's talk that she and others tried it in the past.
  • Depression.
  • Writer's block.
  • The historical accuracy of the real-life story.
  • Jealousy.
  • Tortured artists.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Sylvia bites into Ted's face (after discovering he's at a party with another woman and having just made out with him), causing him some pain.
  • Ted overturns a small table in anger.
  • Sylvia slaps Ted who in turn slams her back against a wall and slaps her.
  • While Ted is gone, Sylvia rifles through his things, and then tears up and burns many of his papers, etc.
  • Sylvia rips a phone cord from the wall in anger.
  • A woman commits suicide off-camera (by sticking her head in an unlit gas oven).



  • Reviewed October 20, 2003 / Posted October 24, 2003

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