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Posts Tagged ‘Vita and Virginia’

“Vita and Virginia,” the much-anticipated Chanya Button film about the love affair between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West is playing in London, and I saw it yesterday.

It has opened to mixed reviews. But if you are a fan of Virginia Woolf — as I obviously am — it is a must-see.

Scenery, sets, and superb fashion

As Sarah Hall put it in a message to VWoolf ListServ, “In films or plays about real people you get used to the departures from reality, so I made a determined effort to ignore these and enjoyed the scenery and the costumes and, frankly, the well-recreated sets (all except Knole, which is gloriously real).”

I agree. The sets look wonderfully authentic. The scenes that take place at Charleston look like Charleston, down to the painted doorways and decorated mantelpieces. The room where the Hogarth Press was housed looks just as I imagined it — although Stuart Clarke of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain said a press such as the Woolfs owned would not have sounded like the one in the film. But film needs sound, so the producers added the clanking of machinery as the pages of Jacob’s Room (1922) are shown coming off the press.

The costumes are fabulous — although I did wonder if Vita’s actual wardrobe was as glamorous as the film portrayed. But movies are expected to be a treat for the eyes, and this one succeeded at that, with the sets, the scenery, and the costumes.

The words don’t fail but the pacing plods

Since it was based on the eponymous play by Eileen Atkins, which was based on the letters that Vita and Virginia wrote each other, I also appreciated hearing the words of those two writers as much of the film’s dialogue.

But where the words succeed, the pacing plods. Even for a Woolf lover, the film is slow.

And there are a number of scenes — from the party scene where one first encounters Virginia to the love scenes in Vita’s bed — where I shook my head in disbelief. No, Virginia would not have danced around like a Grateful Dead groupie at any party, I thought. And no, I thought, Virginia never experienced sexual fulfillment via Vita. Did she?

Sarah Hall also had this criticism, “What didn’t make dramatic sense is to have Vita’s mother in residence at Knole instead of her father (who doesn’t appear and isn’t even mentioned). If Lionel is meant to be prematurely deceased, why hasn’t Knole been bestowed on a male heir?”

The casting is questionable

However, the casting may be my main complaint. After two casting changes for the role of Virginia, the film stars Gemma Arterton as Vita and Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia. Neither really works. In my opinion, Arterton is too cute and feminine to play the outdoorsy Vita. Debicki is absolutely too tall; she towers over the petite Arterton in too many scenes, which put me off.

Peter Ferdinando works well as Leonard and portrays him as a sympathetic character, which suits me. But Adam Gilles is wrong on every count as Duncan Grant. I had to wonder why they didn’t cast the beautiful James Norton, who made the perfect Duncan in Life in Squares.

Despite complaints, I recommend the film to anyone who cares about Virginia Woolf, Vita, and the Bloomsbury group. Apparently, many agree. On its opening weekend, July 4-7, the film made £49,223 showing in 63 cinemas.

The film opens in the U.S. in October.

 

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Every day Blogging Woolf monitors Google and Twitter for references to Virginia Woolf on the Web. Here are some recent sightings shared via the blog’s Facebook page:

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Gemma at Flower Show

Gemma Arterton at the Chelsea Flower Show (image via IrishNews.com).

Preparations for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia are well underway. British actress Gemma Arterton, will play Vita Sackville-West in the film about the friendship between Vita and Virginia Woolf. Sackville-West was a celebrated gardener whose work continues to inspire gardeners today, so Arterton has been has been preparing for her role by gardening and spending time around flowers.

Arterton visited the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last month where she talked about her experience gardening and her work preparing to play such a respected gardener. The Irish News writes that Arterton became a “devoted gardener” while researching for the role in the film:

 

“I would like to be a big gardener and I am constantly trying to find new ways to bring it to life. I am moving house soon just so that I can have a garden.

“The role came before the passion. Vita was one of the world’s most famous gardeners, so I have been trying to get into the zone for that.”

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Andrea Riseborough will play Virginia Woolf.

 

We learn from the article that filming will take place this summer at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. The article also states that the role of Virginia Woolf will be played by Andrea Riseborough, which is different from the original cast that was announced, which had Eva Green lined up to play Woolf.

Riseborough has been featured in such films as Brighton Rock, Oblivion, and the Oscar winning film Birdman.

The director of the film, Chanya Button, has been preparing in other ways. In May she tweeted about attending lectures on the Hogarth Press at the Charleston Literary Festival:

 

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Actors have been chosen for the roles of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia, according to The Guardian.

The part of Woolf will be played by French actress, Eva Green, and the role of Seckville-West will be played by English actress, Gemma Arterton.

Both Green and Arterton have appeared in several major motion pictures, and both have experience playing “Bond Girls” in James Bond films.

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Actress Eva Green will play Woolf (image via Pinterest).

Eva Green has appeared in many films including Dark Shadows, 300, and recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

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Actress Gemma Arterton will play Sackville-West (image via BBC).

Gemma Arterton has also appeared in many films including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Byzantium, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Harper’s Bazaar has created side-by-side images of the actresses and of their subjects for a visual analysis:

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Green and Woolf (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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Arterton and Sackville-West (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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Chanya Button will direct Vita and Virginia

Deadline.com is reporting that the film Vita and Virginia is now set to be directed by British Director Chanya Button.

Button recently directed Burn Burn Burn (2015), and tweeted her excitement with her new project, writing, “Thrilled to be Directing this. Collaborating with & celebrating brilliant women!”

This is a switch from the news we got last year which indicated that the film would be directed by Sacha Polak, the Dutch director of such films as Hemel (2012) and the documentary New Boobs (2013).

The film is based on Dame Eileen Atkins’s script Vita and Virginia, which is based on her play by the same name. The film is still set to be produced by Mirror Productions and Blinder films, and casting choices have not yet been announced.

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Virginia and Vita in 1933

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