The Laureate15¦ blu-ray, DVD
If you ask youngsters today what they want to be when they grow up, top of the list is bound to be the likes of reality star or social influencer. One career you can guarantee that won’t feature on any list is that of poet.
Even the subject of this film, Robert Graves conceded that ‘there’s no money in it’. But he did follow that statement with ‘but there’s no poetry in money, either’, proving he was indeed a man of words.
But as this film reveals, he was someone who certainly suffered for his art.
Living in an idyllic house named ‘World’s End’ in the country are couple Robert Graves (Tom Hughes) and Nancy Nicholson (Laura Haddock) with their young daughter.
Robert is a renowned poet, but suffering from writer’s block, he’s having to contemplate alternative work in teaching as a way of bringing an income in.
His outlook is changed however, when reading the work of a young American poet, Laura Riding (Dianna Agron). He is so taking by it, that he is compelled to write to her in New York.
Certainly something sparks between them as Laura soon finds herself on their doorstep, as they invite her in to stay and be their guest.
It’s soon clear to Nancy that Laura is just the muse that Robert needed to stir his creativity. But it’s not the only thing stirring within him, as Laura’s arrival soon makes a seismic impact on all their lives.
Even if poetry is not your thing, this film written and directed by US director William Nunez, looks at a period of history where poets were superstars of their time. It features some heavy hitters of the poetry world such as Geoffrey Phibbs, Edmund Blunden and the OG himself T.S. Eliot, but the focus is obviously Graves.
Nunez identifies Graves as being haunted by his time in service during the war, and recognises it as an early example of PTSD, which he would surely be diagnosed as suffering from today. Hughes is splendid as Graves, playing him beautifully as the sensitive tortured soul that he is.
It is utterly believable that he would see Laura as a drug that not only cures him but he also gets addicted to. Agron, who is almost unrecognisable from her days playing Quinn in Glee, personifies the siren-esque abilities of Laura, luring all men into very dangerous waters who find themselves in her wake. So don’t be surprised if she beguiles you in a similar fashion.
Rounding off this magnificent trio is Haddock, who shines superbly playing the unconventional wife. Considering the impact Agron makes with her arrival, Haddock does wonderfully well to maintain a presence without being fully overshadowed.
Nunez’s film is a fascinating portrayal of a brilliant poet, tortured by his past and his love for a like-minded woman. It has a lyrical beauty, tinged with a suffering that all those featured experience, making it poetry in motion.