Vita & Virginia (2019) is female-positive movie which show the tolerance of most men, no doubt. This is one of several remarkable aspects to Vita & Virginia, the screenplay written by director Chanya Button and Dame Eileen Atkins that tells a triumphant love story between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. The full origin story for Virginia Woolf’s acclaimed Orlando. The men in the narrative are all highly supportive husbands, especially considering the setting is 1920s London. Not only are they supportive of their wives’ creative endeavors, they are also mostly indifferent to their same-sex extramarital pursuits. Wittingly, this fact is used to great comedic effect throughout the film which is enjoyable to watch online. Serving as the backbone of the narrative are explicit love letters exchanged by the two professional authors.
Button chose to illustrate the exchanges serially, through blurry toward-camera dictations by each author, as if directed toward the recipient. In an age of instant text messages and tweets filled with acronyms and emojis void of complete thoughts in one transmission, what better way to visualize such beautifully-crafted literal declarations of love, lust, and desire? No audience wants to see the physical act of putting ink to paper repeatedly, or the endless self-talk in the stringing together of phrases. Scenes of Vita in Egypt, seeing all the objects in her alphabet and mirages of two Virginia would have provided refreshing visuals, but alas, this film had a modest production budget. The only issue with Button’s execution is the literal blurriness of it: inconsistent, not quite radial nor linear tilt-shift; bizarre. Elizabeth Debicki shines as a dour, whimsical Virginia Woolf, while Gemma Arterton stuns as a spicy, ambitious Vita Sackville-West. All the supporting cast (Rupert Penry-Jones, Peter Ferdinando, Emerald Fennell, Adam Gillen) pull their weight with great dexterity as creatives of the Bloomsbury group that viewers could only hope Button had runtime to explore.
The production design, sets (holy staircases of Knole House) and costumes are gloriously colorful and faithful. Cinematography, editing, and CGI make for a very modern picture, but nevertheless fitting for this contemporary take on a love story of a bygone era. Isobel Waller-Bridge’s electronic-heavy score, peppered ever so slightly with strings, adds a remarkable lushness to the picture. Vita & Virginia will prompt deep dives into relevant canon should it fail to entertain, stir, and enlighten. This love was too modern for its time, and world views have changed so much since then, but are there examples of this love, being tolerated in the manner it was, to be found today? Watch this movie yourself by free downloading Vita & Virginia from Filmxy. A superb sophomore effort by Button. The picture embodies a velvet-like quality that is substantial and lingers, prime for re-examination.