The BBC Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor biopic aired last night, bringing the Hollywood's stars' romance to a new generation. We digest the critical reception to see if the Helena Bonham Carter/Dominic West pairing was a success.
It was the real-life and onscreen romance that fascinated millions and now the unique romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton has yet again been brought back to life in the BBC4 biopic, Burton and Taylor, that aired last night (22nd July).
Burton And Taylor: Helena Bonham Carter & Dominic West Brought The Fabled Romance Back To Life.
Set in 1983, the Richard Laxton-directed biopic tracks a period of the lovers' lives where they appeared together in the Noël Coward play, Private Lives, in New York.
The play focusses on a divorced couple who are holidaying separately with their new spouses when they meet again and rekindle their romance. Perhaps this epoch was chosen by the Burton and Taylor writers because it rather accurately mirrored the lives of the actors underneath the characters. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were married together twice and their complicated love was strong but fraught with disagreement as the pair infuriated each other and argued regularly, which ultimately culminated in at least as many break-ups as marriages.
The On/Off Couple's Relationship Was Fraught With Fighting.
The Guardian's Sam Wollaston praises the West and Bonham Carter's portrayal of the old-school Hollywood giants and their on/off tempestuous relationship as simply "excellent," explaining that "There's a crackle between them - of chemistry, physics probably, biology certainly" as they slip with ease into the minds of two people "who clearly are and always will be in love, but can never be together."
However, The Telegraph's Chris Harvey takes issue with Dominic West's representation of the distinctive look and voice of the Welsh-born Burton as an "obvious flaw": "West seemed to be having trouble with the accent, that odd Burton hybrid of affected thespian posh with vigorous Welsh roots showing through," adding that "It was distorting the entire frame" and questioning where the glamour lay in the film that showed vomiting, pill-popping and revenge.
Helena Bonham Carter & Dominic West Lend A Glamour That Reignites The Passion Of The Hollywood Stars Of Old.
Perhaps the glamour comes from the tragedy of such an ill-fated relationship; the pair were clearly in love and experienced a magnetic pull towards one another but every time they became close they were burned by the volatility of their desire and clash of their iconic personalities, with Burton's death less than a year after the play finished.
The Independent's Geoffrey McNab, however, doesn't think that West and Bonham Carter took it far enough, describing the rather attractive and polished pair as too "young and unscarred" for their roles, with none of the "caustic dialogue" the real-life pair used to spit at one another, nor do they come "remotely close to capturing the grotesquerie or magnificence of Burton and Taylor."
Watch The Burton And Taylor Trailer:
If you saw it, leave us a comment and let us know if you thought it was a fitting representation of two of the greatest Hollywood actors of all time but if you haven't seen it yet you can find it on the BBC's iPlayer streaming service.