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Tom & Viv 1994 ***

Biopics of writers have an inherent problem; how to dramatise the prose. Brian Gibson’s 1994 film deals with poet TS Elliot and his relationship with Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Adapted from Michael Hastings’ play, Gibson astutely casts two excellent actors, Willem Dafoe and Miranda Richardson as Tom & Viv, and focuses on how her gynecological problems caused havoc with their understanding of each other. The 1915 setting is carefully depicted, less for the period detail as the attitudes conveyed, with Viv’s mood-swings hard to explain in the polite society of the Bloomsbury group, and Tom’s writings not seen as a viable career. Tom and Viv is a delicate, realistic love story.

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