Vita & Virginia (2018)

Vita & Virginia
Director: Chanya Button
Writer: Eileen Atkins, Chanya Button
Based on: Vita Sackville-West‘s and Virginia Woolf‘s letters
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones, Peter Ferdinando, Emerald Fennell, Gethin Anthony, Rory Fleck Byrne, Karla Crome
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 11.9.2018

Plot:
Vita (Gemma Arterton) and Virginia (Elizabeth Debicki) move in similar social circles, but have yet to meet personally. Vita has admired Virginia from afar and she is determined to become friends with her. Virginia is taken aback by Vita’s adamant attempts at first, but she has to admit that she is also drawn to Vita. It doesn’t take long and they become friends, then lovers, inspiring each other in their writing. Despite their progressive surroundings, not everybody can deal equally well with their relationship though.

With Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf being who they were and having led the lives they led, it is hard to imagine a film about them that wouldn’t be at least interesting. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the film would have been well-made. In this case, luckily, the film is not only interesting, it is very well-made indeed.

Film poster showing Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki leaning against each other.
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Persuasion (2007)

Persuasion
Director: Adrian Shergold
Writer: Simon Burke
Based on: Jane Austen’s novel
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Rupert Penry-Jones, Alice Krige, Anthony Head, Julia Davis, Peter Wight, Marion Bailey, Amanda Hale, Tobias Menzies
Seen on: 28.6.2015
[Here’s my review of the 1995 version.]

Plot:
Many years ago, Anne Elliot (Sally Hawkins) was engaged to Frederick Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones), but took the advice of her motherly friend Lady Russell (Alice Krige), as well as listened to the opinions of her father Sir Walter (Anthony Head) and her sister Elizabeth (Julia Davis)and dissolved the engagement since Wentworth didn’t have much standing. Quite by coincidence Frederick is back in her life after years in the Navy and has made a name for himself as well as a fortune. Anne is convinced, though, that he will never forgive her for her past actions. And when her cousin William Elliot (Tobias Menzies) starts courting her, she might be getting another chance, despite being alread 27 years old and still unmarried.

Despite my love for Sally Hawkins, this version of Persuasion absolutely did not work for me. Which is not her fault, but mostly due to the script and the direction.

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A Little Chaos (2014)

A Little Chaos
Director: Alan Rickman
Writer: Alan Rickman, Alison Deegan, Jeremy Brock
Cast: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman, Jennifer Ehle, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Penry-Jones, Steven Waddington, Pauline Moran
Seen on: 05.05.2015

Plot:
Sabine de Barra (Kate Winslet) is a well-established gardener who gets invited to present her plans for a piece of the Versaille gardens to André le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts). Le Nôtre is irritated by Sabine’s lack of order, but decides to work with her anyway, even though his esteem in King Louis XIV‘s (Alan Rickman) eyes and his general reputation depend on the success of the gardens. The tension between Sabine and André soon spills from a professional to a more personal level, much to the disdain of André’s wife (Helen McCrory).

A Little Chaos is a film that would proabbly be classically considered a women’s film (not that there isn’t something for the guys there as well) and it’s a beautiful entry in that (if you will) genre, even though it’s a little heavyhanded sometimes.

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