Tom & Viv (1994) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tom & Viv (1994)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Tom & Viv Photos

Movie Info

This romantic drama chronicles the tumultuous love affair between American poet T.S. Eliot and socialite Vivian Haigh-Wood. It is based on the 1984 play by Michael Hastings. Eliot met Vivian in 1914 while he was still a student at Merton College, Oxford. She had come with her brother Maurice to visit Eliot. It is apparent from the start that Viv is a little odd. But despite her idiosyncrasies, Eliot falls in love and marries her. They honeymoon in the southern resort of Eastbourne. Vivian has extreme mood swings. She takes a huge amount of esoteric medicines, but they do not help her. Out of control, she destroys her room. After the honeymoon, they stay in London with Bertrand Russell, a friend of Eliot's. Viv continues to get sicker after she is again misdiagnosed and improperly medicated. Time passes and Eliot becomes an established poet. He works for a publishing company. His wife has gone completely bonkers and he must commit her to an asylum. He doesn't visit her for a decade. When he finally does he is surprised to find that Viv still speaks well of him. Her condition was diagnosed as a hormonal imbalance related to menstruation.

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Willem Dafoe
as Tom Eliot
Miranda Richardson
as Vivienne Haigh-Wood
Rosemary Harris
as Rose Haigh-Wood
Tim Dutton
as Maurice Haigh-Wood
Nickolas Grace
as Bertrand Russell
Philip Locke
as Charles Haigh-Wood
Clare Holman
as Louise Purdon
Joanna McCallum
as Virginia Woolf
Joseph O'Conor
as Bishop of Oxford
John Savident
as Sir Frederick Lamb
Michael Atwell
as W.I. James
Michael Attwell
as W.I. Janes
Sharon Bower
as Secretary
Linda Spurrier
as Edith Sitwell
John Clegg
as Man No. 1
Simon Robson
as Man No. 2
James Greene
as Dr. Cyriax
Lou Hirsch
as Captain Todd
Edward Holmes
as Telegraph Boy
Simon McBurney
as Dr. Reginald Miller
Hugh Simon
as Concierge
Derek Smee
as Mr. Davis
Giles Taylor
as Young Man
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Critic Reviews for Tom & Viv

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (6)

An amount of telescoping is inevitable in a story which spans 32 years, but you are left with the feeling that the film has cunningly leapfrogged over key events you would have liked to see.

November 13, 2017 | Full Review…

Miranda Richardson gives a distinguished, Oscar-nominated performance as poet T.S. Eliot's first, troubled wife in this disappointing and superficial biopic.

May 6, 2012 | Rating: C | Full Review…

An uninvolving, pretentious bore.

January 5, 2004 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tom & Viv


Sometimes biopics get lost and this is another prime example of one. Eliot's charm on the page is not translated into an interesting character despite the best efforts of Dafoe.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


This is a biopic of the life of poet T.S. Eliot (Tom) and Vivian Haigh-Wood, and their lives together. There are just so many things that deter excitement when it comes to this film, though their real relationship was rather bitter and caustic, which usually makes for decent biopics. The events of their lives have been analyzed by countless historians and there are two conflicting stories: one that Haigh-Wood was mentally insane and was sent away to an institution, which has been pretty accepted throughout time, and two, that Haigh-Wood was made insane by a misdiagnosis and sentenced to an asylum for the rest of her life, imprisoned by her husband and to a lesser extent by her brother. The latter is the now proven truth, and makes up the film's structure. Now, watching the actual film, you are not given that impression, because Eliot seems to be sympathized with. Throughout the film we see Haigh-Wood's declining health, her errant behavior, loud outbursts and crude language and actions. Eliot is shown to be soft spoken, reserved, and inclined to finally be part of the literary community, while Haigh-Wood is raucous and seems to be trying to oust her husband. She is supposed to be a free spirit, but that's not how it comes across. Eliot obviously wants to be respected with his poetry, and though he is shown to go to extreme lengths to do it, he doesn't tell Vivian to shut up, to take more medication, or threatens her in any way. The film shows that he plots to stick her away, and freezes her assets, making her a prisoner. This seems strange since he could have just divorced her, and though this may be the truth, it's not presented very clearly. A lot of stuff gets muddled in translation and then it ends abruptly. Even if it were truthful, it wouldn't make any sense, between the subdued murmur of Willem Dafoe and the shrill yells of Miranda Richardson.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

An great film. An amazing cast. A tragic love story.

Robert C
Robert C

Super Reviewer

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