The story is based loosely on real events and real people, drawing on David N. Thomas' book Dylan Thomas: A Farm, Two Mansions and a Bungalow.
During the London blitz of World War II, nightclub singer Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley) runs into her first love, the charismatic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys). Their feelings for each other are rekindled, despite the fact that Dylan is now married to and has a child with the spirited Caitlin Macnamara (Sienna Miller). In spite of their initial rivalry, the two women become best friends and, drinking heavily in wartime London, the three get along well.
At this time, William Killick (Cillian Murphy), a British Army officer smitten with Vera, pursues her; both Vera and Caitlin are intrigued by his steadfast, gallant personality, although it contrasts with Vera's rebelliousness. William notices her closeness with Dylan, but doesn't seem particularly concerned by it; he and Vera even lend the struggling poet some of their savings. He and Vera fall in love and marry, but soon afterwards William is called up to join the fight against the German invasion of Greece.
Vera discovers shortly after he leaves that she is pregnant; she's upset that motherhood will lose her independence, but cannot bring herself to abort William's child. She later gives birth to their son, and she and the Thomases move to the Welsh seashore to raise their children in two small neighbouring cottages, where Vera and Caitlin's friendship grows ever closer. One day, however, Dylan draws Vera into an affair. Dylan and Caitlin's marriage has long been distorted by their multiple infidelities, but Dylan- recalling a sexual encounter he and Vera had when she was 15 years old - sees her as his soulmate.
William (now a Captain), scarred by the horrors of the war, eventually returns home where Vera notices his emotional distance and instability. In his disquiet, William comes to suspect his wife's infidelity and confronts her about it; Vera also confesses the truth to Caitlin, who is furious with her for lying to her. Severely drunk one evening, and angry with Dylan's friends and their ignorant remarks on the war, William wanders out at night and fires multiple shots into the Thomases' house, though he hits no one; Vera manages to talk him down, and the next morning he seems to return to his former self. However, he is soon arrested and taken to trial.
During the trial, Dylan testifies against William by exaggerating the facts, stating he believed William was not only sober, but also that William intended to kill him, his wife, and his child. The jury finds William innocent of intent to murder, and he returns home. He accepts his new role as a father, and he and Vera forgive each other, rekindling their relationship. Soon afterwards, the Thomases move out of their cottage. During the farewell, Vera restores her friendship with Caitlin, but never speaks with Dylan again, unable to forgive him for testifying against her husband.
The film made its world premiere opening at the Edinburgh Film Festival on 18 June 2008. It was released in London and Dublin two days later, with a Welsh premiere taking place in Swansea (the birthplace of Dylan Thomas) on the same night, attended by Matthew Rhys. A national release followed in the UK and Ireland on 27 June 2008. An exhibition of costumes, scripts and props from the film was on display at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea until September 2008.
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received a 34% "rotten" rating, based on 53 reviews by critics. The Hollywood Reporter critic Ray Bennett commented that The Edge of Love is a "wonderfully atmospheric tale of love and war" and stated about Knightley and Miller that; "the film belongs to the women, with Knightley going from strength to strength (and showing she can sing!) and Miller again proving that she has everything it takes to be a major movie star."
As of 25 August 2008, the movie review aggregator, Metacritic, awarded the film a score of 39 denoting "generally unfavorable reviews". In Variety, Leslie Felperin commented: "While the period drama has several redeeming features, tonally it's all over the map, veering between artsy stylization and hum-drum, sometimes almost twee melodrama."
Mark Kermode described the film as "inert" and said that the script was "flawed but not without some form of admirable merit". The Independent felt that "Maybury's stylisation makes the film more interesting than it would have been if directed by your average British journeyman, but it finally adds up to earnest heritage romance."
Sienna Miller received a nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the 2008 British Independent Film Awards.
The Edge of Love soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti includes performances by singers Keira Knightley, Siouxsie Sioux, Suggs, Patrick Wolf, and Beth Rowley. Siouxsie performs the second version of "Careless Love", while Patrick Wolf performs "Careless Talk".
The composer performed the soundtrack live with Siouxsie and Beth Rowley in Ghent, at the World Soundtrack Awards, in October 2008.
- "Lovers Lie Abed"
- "Overture/Blue Tahitian Moon"
- "Underground Shelter"
- "Hang Out The Stars in Indiana"
- "After The Bombing/Hang Out The Stars in Indiana"
- "A Stranger Has Come"
- "Fire to the Stars"
- "Careless Talk"
- "Careless Love"
- "Love Me"
- "Careless Talk"
- "Drifting And Dreaming"
- "Home Movies"
- "Under Fire"
- "Maybe It's Because I Love You Too Much"
- "Vera Begs Dylan"
- "Vera's Theme"
- "Holding Rowatt"
- "Careless Love"
- "Caitlin's Theme"