Watching a close-on-two-hours arty/intellectual film sitting with just four others in a 500-seat cinema on a hot, cloudless-skied afternoon was not exactly conducive to appreciating or merely just enjoying this. However, I had a pre-booked ticket so go I went. It wasn't long after it began when I was struggling to keep my eyes from shutting.
Early 1920s, London - and Vita-Sackville West (member of the 'Bloomsbury set' of dilettantes - played here by Gemma Arterton) wishes to ingratiate herself with author Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) and puts herself in the writer's presence. They hit it off and you don't have to wait that long before they're away together and engaging in some rumpy-pumpy, the suspecting Woolf husband aware of his wife's inclinations. while Vita has more of a carefree, butterfly persona. Social gatherings abound with much lah-di-dah talk, most of which I found quite uninteresting. The film leads up to Woolf's writing of what was to be regarded as her masterwork, 'Orlando', the gender-fluid title character being based on Vita, evincing disapproving noises from certain quarters.
I think it helps maybe a bit if you're familiar with the novel 'Orlando' - there's also the 1992 film with Tilda Swinton in the title role. That book and 'To the Lighthouse' are the only novels of V.Woolf which I've read.
I found the film, notwithstanding the inauspicious conditions I watched it in, quite non-captivating, even boring. It took all my effort to keep my eyelids up.
A curious, rather exasperating, feature is that most of the indoor scenes (very little shot outside) are dimly lit (often candlelight), washing out what little colour there is. That also didn't help much in maintaining interest.
I've no doubt that the intentions of the film (director Chanya Button) were honourable, but dear me, it was a slog! However, as I infer, I might have had a higher opinion of it had I watched it in better circumstances where attention to the screen was not distracted by the unfavourable conditions. I think it's really one for fans of that period and of Virginia Woolf in particular.............4.5.
(IMDb..............5.3 - Rott.Toms (critics only)................5.42/10)
3 hours ago