Review: VITA & VIRGINIA Is A Frustratingly Slow Romance Inspired By A True Story


Bland and over-stylized, Vita & Virginia is an uninteresting romance despite having a great cast and tons of potential.
Technical Merit

Vita & Virginia, co-written and directed by Chanya Button, is a new romance telling the scandalous true story of the relationship between writer Virginia Woolf and her lover Vita Sackville-West. Unpleasant and over-stylized, this film is quite exhausting and disappointing.

Anyone who is familiar with the work of Virginia Woolf is sure to tell you that she was a wonderful writer whose work was truly revolutionary at the time. As such, a glimpse into her personal life could and should have been fascinating. Unfortunately, even though this movie is based on a true story, it ends up feeling like slightly more professional fan-fiction.

The character development in the film is absolutely terrible. Woolf is presented in the movie from Sackville-West’s perspective, and as such, she is glorified and romanticized. As a result, we are unable to get any deeper insight as to who she is on a deeper and more personal level. Sackville-West, on the other hand, is just an entirely underdeveloped character, and we are given little reason to connect with her.

For a film that is about scandal, the movie is far too inept at adequately establishing the stakes. Since we don’t particularly care for either character on an individual level, we don’t really buy into the relationship. In turn, this prevents us from sympathizing with their struggle. Although the film makes clear that their relationship is something that was taboo and frowned upon at the time, it fails to give them a compelling reason to take that risk.

vita & virginia stare
Gemma Arterton as “Vita Sackville-West” and Elizabeth Debicki as “Virginia Woolf” in Chanya Button’s Vita & Virginia. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release.

Additionally, the pacing of the movie is quite slow. Clocking in at an hour and fifty minutes, this is a could have been at least twenty to thirty minutes shorter. There is more than enough story to make a compelling film, but the filmmakers did little with these true figures. Instead of playing off of our prior understandings and perceptions of Woolf, the movie presents a by-the-book romance.

Stylistically, the film feels like a cheap rip-off of Baz Luhrmann’s style. Although the production design and costuming are exquisite, the overly flashy cinematography and needlessly anachronistic soundtrack drag you out of the movie. By all means, this was a conscious decision by Button, perhaps to make the film feel more relevant to modern times, and this risk did not pay off.

It really is a shame that the movie isn’t better, as Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton are both very talented actresses. Unfortunately, the material does not allow them any room to breathe any life into Woolf or Sackville-West, respectively. Instead of seeing them become their characters, you see them as themselves in periodized garb, which is ultimately distracting.

Vita & Virginia wastes its talented cast and thoroughly interesting real-life subjects on a film that is conventional and boring. Although this movie may have its fair share of admirers, particularly those who romanticize Woolf as does the protagonist, it will likely be forgotten by most others within months or even weeks from now.

Vita & Virginia is now playing in theaters and hits VOD on August 30.


Star Trek Day 2020 | Star Trek Universe Panels

CBS All Access has gone all out for Star Trek Day 2020, with exciting panels from each and every Star Trek Universe series! Fans can enjoy panels including Executive Producers, Showrunners, Writers and cast members from Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star…

Cobra Kai School Fight Scene | SHOT BY SHOT | Netflix

Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, & Peyton List from Cobra Kai break down the epic school fight scene in season 2, shot by shot. Watch Cobra Kai Season 2 on Netflix now. Watch Cobra kai, Only on Netflix: SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million…

We lied to you about Away | Netflix

Can you spot the lie? Inspired by the new series Away, starring Hilary Swank, these 21 facts (and one lie) will surprise even the most dedicated Space fans! Watch Away, Only on Netflix: SUBSCRIBE: About Netflix: Netflix is the world's leading streaming entertainment service with 193 million paid memberships in over 190 countries…

The Third Day: Series Premiere (Full Episode) | HBO

There are things here you cannot escape. #HBO #ThirdDayHBO #JudeLaw #NaomieHarris #KatherineWaterston #EmilyWatson #PaddyConsidine Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: Created by Dennis Kelly and Felix Barrett, The Third Day is told over the first three episodes. “Summer” follows Sam, a man drawn to a mysterious Island off the British coast, who encounters a group…

Get Ready for the 2020 Election w/ THE CIRCUS | SHOWTIME

The 2020 presidential election is nearing, Trump and Biden’s campaigns are in full swing, and THE CIRCUS has the coverage, interviews, and analysis you need as you prepare to vote. Watch new episodes on Sundays at 8/7c on SHOWTIME. Subscribe to THE CIRCUS YouTube channel: #SHOWTIME #SHOCircus Subscribe to the SHOWTIME YouTube channel:…

Michelle Buteau: Welcome To Buteaupia | Netflix Standup Comedy Special | Trailer

Michelle Buteau, the scene stealing queen of Netflix, delivers the night out we all need right now in her uproariously funny new special, Welcome to Buteaupia. Letting loose with a goblet of frosé in hand, she delivers a dynamic hour of comedy that delves into parenthood, cultural difference, and the overlooked value of short men.…

Legendary: Vogue-Cabulary | Serve, Snatch, Chop. | HBO Max

It’s not just about serving looks, you better get your vogue-cabulary down too. In Legendary, a new HBO Max competition series that pulls from the underground ballroom community, voguing teams (aka "houses") must compete in unbelievable balls and showcase sickening fashion in order to achieve "legendary" status. The cast includes MC Dashaun Wesley and DJ…
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here