This um…biopic made for the Lifetime Channel, attempts to tell the story of the romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I have a particular fascination for Burton, which is why I wanted to watch this film, despite all the flak it has received. And – well….I’m glad I watched it, because it was entertaining on one level, but probably not on the level that it was hoping for.
The first problem is that an hour and a half is simply not enough time to tell the story of Burton and Taylor, and consequently, events seem pretty rushed, with the main focus seeming to be on their arguments. The main problem however is with the inexplicable casting of Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor. Now Lohan has had her issues, and I don’t want to pile on to her just for the sake of it. I was hoping that she would actually be much better than other reviews had led me to believe, but unfortunately those other reviews were right. She was terribly miscast as Taylor. It doesn’t bother me that she doesn’t look like Elizabeth Taylor (neither does Helena Bonham-Carter, but she still did a terrific job in the BBC film ‘Burton and Taylor’) – although if a film is going to make constant references to Taylor’s struggle to keep her weight down, it might be worth not having Lohan looking scrawny at the same time. What annoyed me more was the fact that Lohan didn’t seem to be trying to emulate Taylor in any apparent way. Her voice was NOTHING like that of Taylor – which was pretty distinctive – and she just seemed to be playing a generic, mainly fictional film star from the era. In some scenes she was embarrassingly wooden.
Grant Bowler was more of a success as Richard Burton, and did actually do a good job of mastering Burton’s gorgeous voice. Again, he didn’t really look a lot like Burton, but he did play the part well, and made me feel that with more time to tell the story, and a better leading actress to star opposite, this film could have been more of a success.
For Burton and/or Taylor fans, it’s worth watching for pure curiosity’s sake, but if you are looking for a film about this legendary couple, you would be better off watching the aforementioned BBC production ‘Burton and Taylor’, which focuses on the period in the 1980s when the couple – now divorced – appeared together in the stage play Separate Lives.
Year of release: 2012
Director: Lloyd Kramer
Producers: Larry A. Thompson, Christopher Monger, Kyle A. Clark, Robert G. Endara II, Philip Harrelson, Lina Wong
Writer: Christopher Monger
Main cast: Lindsay Lohan, Grant Bowler, Theresa Russell, David Hunt, Tanya Franks, Andy Hirsch