Set amidst a community in the fictional, Welsh village of Llareggub, we peer intimately into the lives of those whom inhabit it, such as Rhys Ifans’ Captain Cat, or Polly Garter (Charlotte Church), who pines after her dead lover – immersing ourselves in their dreams and innermost thoughts, as a film told, for the most part, in the subconscious. It’s Ifans who narrates proceedings, bringing the verse to life with an indelible, dulcet tone, working as the film’s finest aspect. Though it’s hardly commendable of the filmmakers, that the defining feature is undoubtedly the poetic, sensory voice-over (particularly the opening soliloquy) – as it’s the one element that was established beforehand, entirely the making of Thomas, and nobody else.
Allen has presented this narrative as though a fairytale, with an almost ethereal, hypnotic feeling. But it’s impossible to bring the imagery of these words and metaphors to life, so perhaps this narrative may have lent itself better to being an animation, where anything is possible. You can’t just reimagine and physicalise these words when so deliberate, and profound in their descriptions.
Considering we’re entering in to the dreams of a myriad of characters, witnessing their most carnal of desires, their unadulterated idealisms and uncontrolled thoughts – you still leave feeling somewhat empty, as though not truly knowing anybody significantly, despite getting, quite literally, into their head and tapping in to their vulnerability. Allen has managed to capture that surrealistic, random irreverence of our dreams however, where we have no control, no conscious ability to stop them being really bloody strange. The filmmaker does struggle to maintain a sense of linearity however, in what is effectively a series of short stories, clumsily intertwined.
This superfluous reimagining of Under Milk Wood is simply too try hard, and stylistically contrived, albeit a vivacious and striking visual experience. The fictional setting is Llareggub, which, if you read it backwards, spells ‘Bugger All’. Which is ironically representative of just how many reasons we can think of to go and see this movie.