Sylvia is a 2003 British biographical drama film directed by Christine Jeffs and starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig, Jared Harris, and Michael Gambon. It tells the true story of the romance between prominent poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. The film begins with their meeting at Cambridge in 1956 and ends with Sylvia Plath's suicide in 1963.
Frieda Hughes, Sylvia and Ted's daughter, accused the filmmakers of profiting from her mother's death.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1932, Plath developed a precocious talent as a writer, publishing her first poem when she was only eight years old. That same year, tragedy introduced itself into her life as Plath was forced to confront the unexpected death of her father. In 1950, she began studying at Smith College on a literary scholarship, and while she was an outstanding student, she also began suffering from bouts of extreme depression. Following her junior year, she attempted suicide for the first time. Plath survived, and, in 1955, she was granted a Fulbright Scholarship to study in England at the University of Cambridge. While in Great Britain, Plath met Ted Hughes, a respected author, who would later become the British Poet Laureate. The two fell in love and married in 1956. Marriage, family and a growing reputation as an important poet nonetheless failed to bring Plath happiness. She became increasingly fascinated with death, a highly visible theme in her later poetry and her sole novel, The Bell Jar. After Hughes left her for another woman, her depression went into a tailspin from which she never recovered. She killed herself at age 30.
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath
- David Birkin as Morecambe
- Alison Bruce as Elizabeth
- Amira Casar as Assia Wevill
- Daniel Craig as Ted Hughes
- Blythe Danner as Aurelia Plath
- Lucy Davenport as Doreen
- Julian Firth as James Michie
- Jeremy Fowlds as Mr. Robinson
- Michael Gambon as Teacher Thomas
- Sarah Guyler as Ted's Cambridge Girlfriend
- Jared Harris as Al Alvarez
- Andrew Havill as David Wevill
- Liddy Holloway as Martha Bergstrom
Filming took place between October 2002 and February 2003. Much of the film was shot in and around the New Zealand city of Dunedin, with the University of Otago serving to represent Cambridge.
The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a "rotten" 37% approval rating from mainstream critics, giving the consensus, "This biopic about Sylvia Plath doesn't rise above the level of highbrow melodrama."
- Sylvia at the Internet Movie Database
- Sylvia at Rotten Tomatoes