Burton and Taylor (2013)
“Never. Never. Never, never, never” an aging Richard Burton promises himself at the beginning of this biopic. He is on the bandwagon, trying to resist the lure of that which has the potential to invigorate and/or destroy him. But what is this addiction that continues to tempt him? Is it his well-known fondness for alcohol or his ex-wife twice over, Elizabeth Taylor?
Burton and Taylor focuses on the famous couple’s last performance together. Though they had co-starred in many films since their initial pairing in Cleopatra, Noel Coward’s ‘Private Lives’ was to be their first and only time together on-stage. The play is a sell-out, both at the ticket booth and professionally for the actors, as theatre-goers flock to see the ex-lovers portray a divorced couple who bump into each other on their separate honeymoons. How Burton and Taylor respond to this reaction is as contrary as their motivation for undertaking this venture in the first place.
In what is essentially a two-hander, Helena Bonham Carter dominates proceedings with her captivating portrayal as Elizabeth Taylor. She not only captures the screen icon’s voice and mannerisms, but also displays her ability to be both infuriating and yet engaging at the same time. Disappointingly, Dominic West forgoes Burton's voice. Though Burton derides it as the theatrical equivalent of a big cock, it still would have been nice for him to whip it out occasionally.
as Richard Burton
as Elizabeth Taylor
as Kathryn Walker
as John Cullum
Though listed elsewhere as a goof, Helena Bonham Carter deliberately put the mole on the opposite side of her face to Taylor's, as she wanted her performance to be "a collage, a sketch, a tribute to her. I can't ever attempt to impersonate her, because I'm not her"
Biopic's recreation from the play Private Lives (07:15) is included in the clip below.