Bur­ton and Tay­lor Satur­day, 8.30pm, ABC

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television / Free To Air -

The tem­pes­tu­ous love af­fair and the on-again, off-again mar­riages of Richard Bur­ton and El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor kept gos­sip writ­ers and au­di­ences en­thralled for decades. This bi­o­graph­i­cal drama jumps over those years to 1983 when Tay­lor per­suaded Bur­ton to ap­pear with her on Broad­way in Noel Cow­ard’s Pri­vate Lives. It was an apt (some might say cyn­i­cal) choice, given the play is about a di­vorced cou­ple who meet while hon­ey­moon­ing with their new part­ners. Tay­lor (played here by He­lena Bon­ham-Carter) and Bur­ton (Do­minic West) were mar­ried from 1964 to 1974 and 1975 to 1976. Their ver­sion of the play was slammed by the crit­ics, but of course it was a huge com­mer­cial suc­cess as au­di­ences flocked to see them to­gether. Tonight’s biopic opens with Tay­lor, ad­dicted to grog and pills and de­ter­mined to pun­ish Bur­ton, ar­riv­ing for re­hearsal with­out hav­ing read the script. Bur­ton is ap­palled. Af­ter open­ing night they go out to din­ner, fight and she calls in sick the next day. It’s a big chal­lenge for Bon­ham-Carter and West to play such well-known stars, but they both come as close to pulling it off as is pos­si­ble. West cap­tures Bur­ton’s in­cred­i­ble voice and Bon­ham-Carter looks pretty good as the ex­quis­ite but frag­ile Tay­lor, who was 50 at the time. Bur­ton was 57 and died a year later. It was the last time the fa­mous cou­ple ap­peared to­gether. Tay­lor died in 2011.

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