I will start by saying that this was my second time seeing this film. I had the chance to see it during TIFF last year. But as soon as I saw it on the schedule for Inside Out, I knew I wanted to see it again. And just like I remembered, this film might just be one of my favourites.
It’s not perfect but it doesn’t need to be. There’s something very interesting to see a relationship that you know is doomed to develop on the screen. But the fact that Vita and Virginia don’t end up together doesn’t matter because the results are satisfying.
Vita & Virginia is about one of the greatest love story of all time. Only one epic romance can give us one of the greatest pieces of fiction of all time, Orlando. I will be honest and say that Virginia Woolf is my favourite author of all time. I have read almost all of her novels and the fact that until just a few years ago I didn’t even know that my favourite author who wrote my favourite novel was queer is a shame.
It’s not always easy to embody roles that are as iconic as two great authors of their generations. But both Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton were able to embody their character completely. If Gemma Arterton has a more juicy role as Vita Sackville-West, the movie really belongs to Debicki as Woolf. She shines so bright and plays the duality of Virginia. Sometimes strong and sure while others frail and broken. It’s not an easy task but she does it brilliantly.
Movies don’t have the best track record when it comes to mental illnesses. Often they are either romanticize or the exact opposite and justify terrible acts. Vita & Virginia has to deal with a mental illness that was never diagnosed while Woolf was alive and was instead assumed after her death. While it never goes into details of Woolf’s past and how that affected the woman that she was, it also doesn’t make her mental health something that is at the centre of it all. Instead, they put the emphasis on the relationship between the two women and how that helped her mental health for a time.
Sometimes a movie is ok and is elevated by one thing in someone’s mind. For me, this movie is really made by the sound design of it. I can’t describe the feeling I get when a film just does something special and different with the way it decides to threat sounds. Vita & Virginia creates an environment where the characters live with the way it handles the sound in its world. Whether is by muting something or elevating sounds, it just works so well.
Vita & Virginia present its main relationship in a kind and beautiful way. With performances that shine and chemistry that bleeds through the screen, it’s a beautiful movie that does justice to its subjects.