Truly Madly review – the deadly desire of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
Biographer Stephen Galloway’s purple prose does its best to give a romantic sheen to a famously troubled relationship Lovers love a burbling plethora of adverbs: in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Juliet Stevenson tells Alan Rickman that she loves him really truly madly deeply passionately remarkably deliciously and, after a pause for thought, juicily. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh worked through the entire adverbial gamut, initially as furtive adulterers and later as figures of almost viceregal splendour, but what Stephen Galloway emphasises is the almost lethal madness of their infatuation. Afflicted by what was then called manic depression, Leigh alternated between fits of derangement and alcoholic slumps, repeatedly stripping naked to frolic in the garden or invade the bedrooms of disconcerted house guests, then attempting suicide if there was a swimming pool handy. During one blow-up in what Galloway daintily calls their “froufrou abode”, Olivier hurled her at a marble tabletop, which left her with a gash on her temple and convinced him that they were “quite capable of murdering each other”. In some empurpled paragraphs, Galloway does his best to romanticise these paroxysms. Olivier, he asserts, was “drunk with desire” for Leigh’s “transcendent beauty” and he describes their first illicit encounters as if with his eye to a peephole: “hands, lips, limbs reached for each other with an urgency neither could control”. Continue reading...
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