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Critics have a laugh as film about fiery lovers fails to sizzle with the passion of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton; LOHAN FAILS TO CAPTURE ESSENCE OF SCREEN GREAT.

Byline: CERI WILLIAMS newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

THE real life love affair of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor was famed for its passionate highs and angry, furious lows.

Yet it seems the first attempt to bring the Hollywood pair's love to the silver screen in Liz & Dick may be more of a damp squib.

Reviews of the film, which has been shown to critics in the United States, have been almost universally negative.

Alongside famed Hollywood wildchild Lindsay Lohan, who stars as London-born screen icon Taylor, New Zealand-born Grant Bowler plays the hard-living Welsh acting legend Burton, who died in 1984.

A reviewer for ABC news wrote: "If you tune into this mess of a movie, premiering Sunday night on Lifetime, it will be because you want to see how bad Lindsay Lohan is in her supposed comeback."

Hollywood reporter critic Tim Goodman wrote: "Lohan as Taylor was a bad idea in the dramatic sense, but it's pure genius both for marketing and for belly laughs and drinking games.

"Lohan is woeful as Taylor from start to finish. But, whatever you do, don't miss Liz & Dick. It's an instant classic of unintentional hilarity. Drinking games were made for movies like this."

The film chronicles Pontrhydyfen-born Burton and Taylor's first encounter and subsequent passionate affair while making the 1963 historical epic Cleopatra, a romance which saw them become the first ever tabloid couple courtesy of its very public, headline-grabbing ups and downs.

Their famous meeting was the start of a love affair that saw them marry, and divorce, twice.

During shooting, Liz & Dick was upstaged by the off-screen behaviour of its main star Lohan, who was taken to hospital after smashing her Porsche into an 18-wheel lorry on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.

She escaped without serious injury but days later was found unconscious in her hotel room suffering from exhaustion.

Her on-screen beau Bowler, who most recently starred alongside Robert De Niro and Jason Statham in espionageheavy action film The Killer Elite, was chosen as he is almost 20 years older - a similar age gap that existed between Burton and Taylor.

The 44-year-old said he had developed a strong admiration for Burton's talent while studying him in preparation for the role.

He told reporters: "What I ended up loving and embracing about him was the incredible talent and also the incredible insecurity that he had.

"He had more technical ability and greater craft than just about any actor alive. And yet still so insecure that he had to numb himself with alcohol."

The film was written by South Wales-born Christopher Monger, 61, a founding member of Chapter's Film Workshop in Cardiff, and was given its formal premiere at the Beverley Hills Hotel on Tuesday.

However, Bowler's preparation for the role did not stop the critics focusing on Lohan's performance, and savaging it.

David Hinckley of the New York Daily News wrote: "It's tempting to say the movie''s big problem is that Lohan is no Liz Taylor.

"And she isn't - though that''s not entirely her fault.

"There aren't all that many actresses, or women, who can stop a room simply by walking into it.

"Liz Taylor in her prime could do that. She could make men melt. Lindsay Lohan's Taylor does not."

He added: "What Liz & Dick may lack most is a sense of the world in which Taylor and Burton lived."

However, not everyone has been so negative. The film's producer Larry Thompson said that the film's troubled shooting was worth all the pain.

He said: "The audience is going to benefit from the risk we took and the reward that was gained."

Life imitates art for Joanna Page Life imitates art for Joanna Page DON'T MISS TOMORROW'S BOX OFFICE

CAPTION(S):

Lindsay Lohan arriving for a dinner celebrating the premiere of Liz & Dick at the Beverly Hills Hotel and, below left in the film about Burton and Taylor, below right
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Nov 22, 2012
Words:653
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