Pros: historical basis; costumes Cons: inappropriate music and computer graphics; unsuccessful script “Vita and Virginia” / Vita & Virginia
Directed by Chania Button
Starring Gemma Arterton (Vita Sackville-West), Elizabeth Debicki (Virginia Woolf), Isabella Rossellini (Lady Sackville), Rupert Penry-Jones (Harold Nicholson), Peter Ferdinando (Leonard Woolf), Emirald Fennell (Vanessa Bell), etc.
Companies Mirror Productions, Blinder Films, Cutting Edge
Year of release 2018 (in Ukraine 2019)
“Vita and Virginia” is an attempt to fantasize about how the romance between two famous English writers developed. The film takes place in London in the 1920s. Vita Sackville-West is a free and out-of-the-box thinker whose books are successfully sold and discussed in high circles. She loves to break rules, provoke the public and is always eager to get what she wants. One day, Virginia Woolf, a more brilliant but less marketable writer who suffers from headaches and hallucinations, becomes the object of her adoration.
The film constantly focuses on the contrasts of the two heroines. This is noticeable not only in the manifestation of their characters, but also in what they surround themselves with. Vita Sackville-West’s house emphasizes her aristocratic origins – numerous paintings hang against the background of a pompous set. But Woolf’s workplace exists in aloofness behind a closed door, like Virginia herself.
The film’s director, Chaniya Button (who also worked on the unsuccessful indie film Burn Burn Burn), is drawn to other contrasts that take away from the film’s coherence. CGI appears on screen several times to depict Woolf’s mental state. But an even more inappropriate element of the film is modern music, which sounds in the first minutes of the film and accompanies the main characters throughout the film. It is quite possible that these techniques were supposed to refresh the usual format of costume melodramas, but the result of the editing leaves behind a strange impression. It seems that there is another Netflix series on the screen, flirting with a young audience.
The way the heroines communicate is also a little controversial. They read letters written to each other while looking directly into the camera. As their romance develops, the correspondence becomes more intense. But the more the director tries to portray the feelings of women, the more artificial they look on screen.
The role of Vita Sackville-West went to Gemma Arterton (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” “Witch Hunters”). And Eva Green could have played Virginia Woolf, but she dropped out of the project before filming began. She was soon replaced by Elizabeth Debicki (“The Great Gatsby,” “Widows”). This is not to say that she copes poorly with the transformation, but rather Debicki was simply unlucky with the director and script, due to which there was no space for dramatic performance. They decided to depict even the manifestations of her character’s madness not with emotions, but with graphic birds.
On top of that, the film, which is about two interesting women, seems extremely boring from start to finish. Beautiful costumes and interiors compensate for the beginning, but after that problems in the production become visible. When a stream of consciousness appears, illustrating the worldviews of the heroines, the creators of the film completely fail to cope with it.
A romantic relationship based on real events gives a lot of space for artistic interpretation. It’s a shame that Vita and Virginia was too superficial and focused on extra elements rather than the story itself.
the story of two writers in the film “Vita and Virginia” is shown in an extremely boring way