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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mrs. Dalloway (1997)

In 1923 London, an aristocratic society matron (Vanessa Redgrave) goes about with preparations for a party she is giving that evening. While doing so she reflects on her younger self (Natascha McElhone). Unrelated to her story, a young shell shocked WWI veteran (Rupert Graves) is dealing with the trauma of his war experience. But before the day is over, what happens to him will have an effect on her. Based on Virginia Woolf's celebrated novel (TIME magazine listed it as one of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century), the film has a feminist bent. Directed by a woman (Marleen Gorris), written by women (screenplay by the actress Eileen Atkins from Woolf's novel), filmed by a woman (Sue Gibson), scored by a woman (Ilona Sekacz), set direction and costumes too. Woolf's novel is one of those books that are difficult to transition to film since most of its style is stream of consciousness, interior monologue etc. That being said, Atkins has done as good a job of adapting it to film as could be expected. Woolf's art may be lost but this is a movie, isn't it and what we get works well enough as cinema. And what Redgrave does with the part is thrilling! She so often (unfairly) gets accused of overacting but her quiet nuanced performance here should shut those naysayers up. A superb supporting cast including Michael Kitchen, John Standing, Margaret Tyzack, Sarah Badel, Alan Cox, Lena Headey and Amelia  Bullmore.

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