Complete A-Z list

Under Milk Wood


Stars: Rhys Ifans, Charlotte Church, Aneurin Hughes, Llyr Evans, Sharon Morgan, Sara Lloyd Gregory, Nia Roberts, Saran Morgan

Director: Keith Allen

There are some wonderful words and images in Dylan Thomas's famous tonal poem, but they don't really come together in terms of a film. It's been more than 40 years since the star-studded 1972 film which, despite the talents of Peter O'Toole, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Glynis Johns and more, didn't exactly break box-office records.

This is a far less starry affair, a surreal, sex-oriented interpretation by director Allen and his adaptors, with an all-Welsh cast, full of fat, rosy-cheeked ladies and drooling, overweight men, as night descends on Llareggub (geddit?), a Welsh harbour town nestled under the darkness of Milk Wood.

A red-eyed, straggle-haired Ifans plays the O'Toole role of the blind Captain Cat, and Church gets to sing a song or two as town strumpet Polly Garter, but there are so many subsidiary characters that we never really get to know any of them, save perhaps Organ Morgan (Hughes) who is always, well, playing the organ to the despair of his wife.

No, after two films and several TV versions, Thomas's masterclass in poetic language remains a thing of verbal beauty - best heard rather than seen. Trivia geeks will notice that one of the tombstones at the start of the movie bears the inscription 'Richard Jenkins' - Richard Burton's real name.

David Quinlan

Wales 2015. UK Distributor: Metrodome. Colour by Panalux.
87 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Oct 2015