Composer Angelo Badalamenti is best known as David Lynch's right-hand man when it comes to dreamily and driftily scoring the latter's atmospheric, vanguard films (as well as writing music for their mutual discovery, Julee Cruise). This score for John Maybury's 2008 film The Edge of Love isn't a terribly large stretch, despite the fact that some of the cues call for real period music and actual dramatic tension that doesn't rely on the bizarre. The film revolves around authentic and imagined episodes surrounding the real life love triangle involving poet Dylan Thomas (played by Thomas Rhys), his wife Caitlin MacNamara (Sienna Miller), and his first love Vera Phillips (Keira Knightley). The tension is added to by William Killick (Cillian Murphy), Phillips' WWII traumatized soldier-husband.
Badalamenti composed instrumental cues and co-wrote songs for the score. Knightley performs many of the songs here -- Phillips was working as a nightclub singer when she and Thomas reconnected. She is very convincing as a vocalist, and her limited range is quite authentic, and added to with depth and dimension by her excellent and emotive phrasing. She performs the lion's share of vocal numbers here; all of which are believable and utterly lovely to listen to. Other performers include Madeleine Peyroux, who performs the tune "Careless Love," and Siouxsie Sioux, who reprises the song near the end of the score. Peyroux may be a more naturally gifted singer, but it's Siouxsie's performance that satisfies here with her ability to capture the spirit of cabaret. Patrick Wolf and Beth Rowley also appear -- separately -- on another Maybury/Badalamenti collaboration called "Careless Talk." As previously mentioned, Badalamenti's instrumental cues extend his own reach beyond mere atmospherics and get to the meat and bone of the emotions addressed with such candor in the film. His sense of the dramatic is well tempered, while his subtlety is also underscored here, making for a completely enjoyable score and soundtrack that reach beyond the limits imposed by the screen.