TV Show Review – A Poet in New York

TV Show Review – A Poet in New York


Rating:  3 (out of 5).  BBC America has A Poet in New York, a look at Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, his visit to New York City (where he drank himself to death) in the early 1950s, and his complicated relationship with his wife. Its cast includes Tom Hollander, Essie Davis, Ewen Bremner, and Phoebe Fox.  High marks from the critics for movie lead Tom Hollander.

Variety thinks, “Tied to the centenary of the wordsmith’s birth, this BBC America presentation proves most notable for Tom Hollander’s brilliant performance, a showy, outsized role in an otherwise very small-scale film.”

The San Francisco Chronicle says, “Those needing a reminder of Thomas’ brilliance will be both gratified and left wanting more by several scenes of Hollander reading from the poet’s work.”

The Wall Street Journal writes, “It would be grim if it were not for the poetry itself, and Mr. Hollander’s soothing approximation of the way Thomas declaimed it on recordings he left behind.”

Los Angeles Times notes, “Indeed, Hollander’s performance is the main, possibly only reason to watch “Poet in New York,” which is otherwise simply another heart-breaking, infuriating and cautionary tale of alcoholism–Thomas seems intent on drinking himself to death and then he does.”

The Financial Times says, “In a new BBC TV film about Dylan Thomas’s booze-dripping, fatal visit to New York in 1953 – where the poet died at the age of only 39 – Tom Hollander gives a performance finely balanced between the two approaches: terrific mimicry, but unpredictable and subtle.”

New Orleans Times-Picayune thinks, “It comes with a terrific performance by Tom Hollander in the lead role, and a lot of lovely language.”

Lansing State Journal writes, “Now “A Poet in New York” finds both extremes. Flashbacks capture the beauty of Wales; New York scenes catch the torment of a brilliant poet, fading from life.”

The Telegraph says, “Hollander, whom we’re used to seeing as a perplexed teddy bear in the gentle comedy Rev, made a startlingly good Thomas, while the script came from one of the few writers who could hope to do the poet justice.”

Wales Arts Review thinks, “This biopic has its flaws admittedly, the intended sense of foreboding and its recurrently trailed snippets of forthcoming tragedy are occasionally overcooked – an early Manhattan bar conversation in which Thomas announces that he does not expect to reach the age of 40 feels particularly heavy-handed – and where Hollander’s lightness of touch works well in the main it has the tendency to veer into slapstick.”

The Times notes, “This dramatisation of Dylan Thomas’s last years didn’t know whether to be a wry BBC Four biopic or a Ken Russell movie.”

London Evening Standard writes, “Andrew Davies’s script was interesting, in that it showed Thomas to be something of an arse, even when delivering a passive aggressive diagnosis about his situation: “What a slobbering slug, what a seedy old ham.” Not that he meant it.”

The Arts Desk says, “Chubby, sweaty, charming, cunning, lascivious and desperate, his Dylan Thomas was infuriating but captivating, his frequently repulsive personal behaviour magicked away in the stardust of his own cascading imagery.”



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