Anyone looking for a movie about Sylvia Plath, the poet, should skip this rendition. The working title for this movie (Ted and Sylvia), would have been much more appropriate, since it is basically a summary of the tumultuous relationship between Plath and fellow poet Ted Hughes. Dramatic and passionate, it's a film that only people who are really interested (or like a good tear-jerker) should see.
Not to be misinterpreted, though: Sylvia is not a bad movie. Gwyneth Paltrow, though arguably one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood since her Oscar win, gives a good performance as Sylvia. Her development throughout the movie from a well-adjusted wife, very much in love, to the disturbed and desperate woman that becomes Sylvia Plath, is remarkable. The progression reads very much like Plath's praised novel, The Bell Jar; it's slow, believable, and relatable.
The settings and the mood display the bleakness in an expectable way considering the story. British actor Daniel Craig also excels in his interpretation of Ted Hughes. Pulling off the charm and the mystique of Hughes, as well as the chemistry with Paltrow, Craig almost takes over the movie.
With a small role as Aurelia Plath for Paltrow's real life mother, Blythe Danner, Sylvia is, for all dramatic purposes, a good movie. Intense scenes and subject matter, along with good acting, make it worth watching. Yet, it still seems to be missing something that could have made it a great movie. She may not have been the greatest poet, but the legend of Sylvia Plath, and her universality as a writer is much more difficult to capture, and this film is clearly not faithful to that legend. Sylvia is a good romance, a good drama, but not the great movie about Sylvia Plath that it could have been.