Set Fire to the Stars
Director: Andy Goddard
Talent: Celyn Jones, Elijah Wood, Steven Mackintosh, Kelly Reilly
Release Date: 14th November 2014
This fact-based comedic drama details the relationship between Dylan Thomas (Celyn Jones) and his chaperone, John M. Brinin (Elijah Wood), while on controversial 1950 promotional tour of the US. At the film’s core is Celyn Jones’ Dylan Thomas: his poetry and Jones’ enthusiastic performance deliver the film’s emotional heart and emphasise the juxtaposition between Thomas’ genius and the alcoholic ‘man-child’ that stomps through the film and the supporting characters like a baby elephant. As the co-writer, Jones has given himself much of the emotional heavy-lifting compared to the often wooden and dead-eyed Elijah Wood. Pivotal scenes intended to give deeper insight into the controversy that surrounded the tour and the impact it had on Brinnin’s subsequent career are hampered by Wood’s lifeless performance and the film’s flimsy structure. Though monochromatic cinematography provides many beautiful, stark images, much of its power is lost in the transition from city to countryside. This is obviously a passion project of Jones’ hampered by its minimal budget. The limp finale attempts to add some potency through a montage of the characters reciting the poem ‘Set Fire to the Stars’, but unfortunately the film never sparks.
Words: Stephen McCabe