BY ERIN TORRANCE
Date released: January 24, 2003
Date watched: January 17, 2014
Why now?: With Meryl Streep starring as the strong-willed mother in the dramatic and critically acclaimed August: Osage County, I decided to dive into another one of her dramatic works. Having majored in English in university, I was also attracted to the concept of this film (it’s based on the life of Virginia Woolf and her novel Mrs. Dalloway).
Why not then?: I probably didn’t realize it even existed when it was first released, but I’m actually thankful I didn’t see it then, because I know I wouldn’t have appreciated this as much as I do now.
- A lot of deaths
- A melodramatic film about three women who are crumbling under the pressures and emotions of life
- An intertwining of three stories of three very different women, living in very different times and experiencing very different pressures
- A fantastic performance by Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf (she won countless accolades for this performance, including an Oscar)
What I actually got:
- The opening scene was one of Virginia Woolf’s suicide and the writing of her letter to her ever-loyal and supportive lover, so clearly I thought the first of my expectations had been met. But as the movie progressed, I was surprised to see that, actually, there weren’t that many deaths for a film about three women struggling with suicide and feelings of absolute loneliness.
- A deeper understanding of how complex the choice between life and death can really be when absent of illness, and how seemingly unforgivable acts suddenly appear unselfish, perhaps even selfless.
- While all three women echoed the theme of Mrs. Dalloway, I was actually kind of disappointed with Meryl Streep’s performance as the modern-day, seemingly blissful editor and party hostess Clarissa Vaughan. Kidman definitely stole the show in this film.
- The speed, depth and intensity of the plot perfectly reflected the tone of Mrs. Dalloway and the seemingly trivial but ever-agonizing lives of Virginia, 1950s housewife Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) and Clarissa and how they battled with the question of life or death, with life being the life they craved, not the life that was. The film was never showy or overdramatic, pushing and pulling only as much as it absolutely had to, which allowed me, the lone viewer, to experience every emotion, every moment, no matter how trivial it may have seemed. Some may find it flat; I found it perfect.
One night-in stand or second date potential?: I have to admit that this film really hit home for me. Having been to England not too long ago and walked the halls of Virginia Woolf’s house and the long path to the site at which she was believed to have walked into the river, the opening scene plunged me into an emotional wreck. It just got worse from there. The subject matter was heavy, though darkly uplifting at moments, and the key topic echoed some rather heavy experiences in my life. Happily, I watched this film in private, which allowed me to fall into the plot’s lulling push and relate to the characters. If I do watch this film again, it won’t be for a long time, and I’m certain my experience will be much different at that time. For now, I say it’s a one night-in stand, alone. I wouldn’t share this movie with anyone in the world; the experience was mine, and mine alone, and that was perfect.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZJCVilXbjQ]