The Bell Jar, based on the late poet Sylvia Plath's autobiographical novel, evokes neither understanding nor sympathy for the plight of its heroine, Esther Greenwood, the epitome of a straight-A, golden-girl-overachiever, who is mentally 'coming apart at the seams.'

The Bell Jar, based on the late poet Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel, evokes neither understanding nor sympathy for the plight of its heroine, Esther Greenwood, the epitome of a straight-A, golden-girl-overachiever, who is mentally ‘coming apart at the seams.’

As played by Marilyn Hassett, Esther emerges as a selfish, morbid little prig. She eventually confesses to hating her mother, admirably played by Julie Harris, presumably because her mother refuses to wallow in the details of her father’s death with her.

Marjorie Kellogg’s screenplay seems fairly faithful to the novel’s spirit. Larry Peerce’s direction provides a sense of headachey dullness 15 minutes into the film.

Donald Brooks’ costumes are the perfect evocation of 1950s style, the film’s time period, and the color of Gerald Hirschfeld’s camera is almost too pretty.

The Bell Jar

Production

Avco Embassy. Director Larry Peerce; Producer Jerrold Brandt Jr; Screenplay Marjorie Kellogg; Camera Gerald Hirschfeld; Editor Marvin Wallowitz; Music Gerald Fried; Art Director John Robert Lloyd

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1979. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Marilyn Hassett Julie Harris Anne Jackson Barbara Barrie Donna Mitchell Robert Klein
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more