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Pandaemonium (2000)

Their poems have crossed centuries, but now their secrets will be revealed

Directed by:

Julien Temple

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 124 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

If dead squabbling rappers Biggie and Tupac had been a couple of frilly-cuffed dandies during the early 19th Century, this could well have been their story. But they weren’t, so it’s not. Instead, it’s the story of renowned English poets Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth, their blossoming friendship, attempts at collaboration, and eventual descent into handbags at high noon.

Taking us back to a time before people realised poetry’s rubbish, director Julien Temple and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce present us with a stylistically messy account of this whining pair’s love-hate relationship. Linus Roache appears to delight in playing Coleridge as a bizarre French Revolution equivalent of Keith Richards, all drug addiction and flailing arms. John Hannah, meanwhile, struggles with a dodgy Yorkshire(?) accent and over-sized sideburns, as he plagiarises his mate’s best work and brown-noses to the Government. At one point he’s got a couple of real-life caterpillars on his face, but they’re by no means the only crawlers in this production.

By far the best bits of the film are where it attempts to be humourous – the jokes work surprisingly well, but the rest teeters permanently on the verge of pomposity. In comparison to the swell of other costume dramas to have come out of the UK over the years, it’s at least a bit different. Temple’s style behind the camera is very much his own (it’s not at all surprising to discover he’s helmed several David Bowie videos), and he’s certainly not afraid of dabbling with the unexpected when it comes to visuals. But does it really all have to come across as quite so smug?

It's Got: A bear in the cupboard! Run for your miserable lives!

It Needs: A spell-checker for the title?

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, bog-standard featurette, a trailer, and an unintentionally hilarious reading of Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’ by a series of talking heads including random celebrities like John Hurt, Hannah Spearritt, Keith Allen and Jack Davenport. Where are Kate Thornton and Rowland Rivron though? DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

Performance

Summary

Inventively put-together for a costume drama, but nothing special in the story department.

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