Vanessa Redgrave glows from within as the heroine of this superb adaptation of Virginia Woolf's novel. As Clarissa Dalloway prepares to host a sumptuous party, her mind wanders back to a summer in her youth, when she was c... more »ourted by an eager young man--a young man whose much older self will come to the very party she's preparing. Mrs. Dalloway moves fluidly between the past and the present, exploring the shifts in perspective and understanding with an unsentimental but graceful eye. What's most stunning is the remarkable interplay between the younger and older actors, who truly seem to be different versions of the same character (the young Clarissa is played by Natascha McElhone). Beautifully directed by Marleen Gorris (Antonia's Line), the movie also features Rupert Graves as a shell-shocked soldier who crosses Clarissa's path. --Bret Fetzer« less
"This 1997 film stars Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs. Dalloway, the Englishwoman introduced in Virginia Woolf's 1925 novel. The book used stream of consciousness to create an interior monologue for her heroine and the film is true to that, a voice-over narration letting the viewer know her interior thoughts as she goes about preparing for a party in 1923. Mrs. Dalloway is now in her sixties, but there are flashbacks to an earlier time, when she was a young woman being pursued by beaus. She has made her choices now and has married a cabinet member and leads a comfortable life as his charming wife. In her youth she rejected the suitor who looked for adventure in India as well as the tentative hint of a friendship with a woman, which might have gone further. When both of them show up at her party, her memories surface. There's also a sub-story of a young man who has been shell-shocked from combat in The Great War and the theme of suicide runs strong throughout the plot. Even though he and Mrs. Dalloway never meet, it is clear why this character was introduced. And it is also interesting to note that Virginia Woolf herself committed suicide in 1941 at the age of 59.Casting is excellent, acting superb. Everything is understated but yet very very clear. I also loved the cinematography and the setting of a very proper London in 1923, especially the costumes. The theme is universal as we all do look back on our lives and wonder what might have been. Also, at only 97 minutes long, the video was exactly the right length. Definitely recommended."
The original version of The Hours
Collin Kelley | Atlanta, Georgia United States | 01/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a fan of either the novel or film The Hours, then reading and watching Mrs. Dalloway is a must. The Hours was Virginia Woolf's original title for Mrs. Dalloway. Michael Cunningham cleverly took that title and turned into a novel that matches Mrs. Dalloway for its shear beauty. But this is a movie review and I can tell you that Vanessa Redgrave is brilliant in the title role. She should have been nominated for an Oscar at the very least. A day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, planning a party, remembering her life and loves. It's a lovely adaptation from Woolf's novel. And of course begins with "Mrs. Dalloway decided she would buy the flowers herself." Buy this yourself. You won't regret it."
Lovers of the book will surely relish this!
P. Kurkowski | Colorado, USA | 10/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never imagined a book such as Mrs. Dalloway could be effectively adapted into film...until now. What a lark! What a plunge! Indeed... I found almost all of the characters casted for this film nearly perfect -- and of course, in my opinion, no one could play Mrs. Dalloway so subtly and touchingly as Vanessa Redgrave. What touched me most about the movie were the tantalizing returns to the youthful past, where young Clarissa plays about, laughs, and trades amusing remarks with her friends Sally and Peter Walsh, the man who who loves her helplessly, passionately. It's a moving book, and the movie does justice to the complicated and intertwined ironies of life. As an immense fan of Virginia's work, I must say the telling moment of Sally's kiss is incredibly well done. A new favorite on my video shelf, something I will return to over and over."
A Graceful Adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MRS. DALLOWAY, the film, has a jolting beginning: the battlefield of WWI with a scene revealing Septimus Warren-Smith in abject terror that his friend Evans is about to walk into a mine explosion, a recurring memory for this character throughout the film. One wonders how MRS DALLOWAY could start there - until the story gradually unfolds. Then this seeming idiosyncrasy is shown to be just one more bit of evidence that the screenwriter is very in tune with the meadering writing style of Virginia Woolf. What a joy to see a novel of such sophisticated complexity be adapted into a movie that is fluid, rich in characterization, thoroughly grounded in the technique of how Woolf mixed memory with present reality in her telling such an indepth history of a woman a bit out of synch with her world, all in one day in June, 1923, as she prepares one of her beloved parties. Indeed, this film suggests that life is a 'party' where new acquaintances are made, old acquaintances are at times tolerated for social reasons, and the entirety of one's past can be summoned by the surprise appearance of signifcant people. This film is blessed with the presence of Vanessa Redgrave whose Mrs Dalloway is wholly credible. But the integration of Clarissa Dalloway's past with her present is so adroit that all of the characters in the present are greatly enhanced. Her love of Peter Walsh and of Sally say a lot about Virginia Woolf's ability to define the inner aspects of her character. Oh, and by the way, the beginning of the film introduces the thread that runs throughout - Septimus elects suicide as an answer to his life's questions, and we are left wondering if this might not be a viable thought running through the mind of Clarissa Dalloway as she reflects on her life choices at the end. A brilliant cast of characters, in every role, dressed to perfection and photographed in echt, period England further enhance this wonderful film. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."
Mrs. Dalloway plans a party and remembers young Clarissa
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Virginia Woolf's novel "Mrs. Dalloway" examines one day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, in which the title character prepares for a party and looks back on the point in her life when she choose Richard Dalloway over Peter Walsh. Meanwhile, the mentally ill war veteran Septimus Warren Smith spends his last day on earth. The action of the novel exists primarily in the consciousness of the characters, for the story itself is essentially plotless and written in the stream-of-consciousness style of James Joyce. Although written in the omniscient third-person voice, Woolf manages to enter the consciousness of her various characters, who are not as unconnected as they might seem to be, and reveal their feelings.
Translating this novel to the screen requires that it be done by those who have a strong understanding and affection for the authors and her characters. Vanessa Redgrave is clearly one of those people and she commissioned Eileen Atkins to write the script so that she could play the title character. Atkins is a Woolf scholar who not only played the author in a one-woman stage piece but also wrote "Vita and Virginia," in which she and Redgrave played Woolf and her lover Vita Sackville-West. Atkins chooses to allow us only into the inner thoughts of Mrs. Dalloway, using voice-over narration to reveal the thoughts that she would never speak out loud. Those who have read the novel might not enjoy the film more than those who have not, since there are always limitations with bringing any literary masterpiece to the screen, but they will certainly understand it more, especially the first part of the film.
A strength of this 1997 film is how easily we accept that Natascha McElhone as the young Clarissa grows up to be Vanessa Redgrave's Mrs. Dalloway. It is young Clarissa who chooses young Richard (Robert Portal) over not only young Peter (Alan Cox), but also over young Sally Selton (Lena Headey), whose kiss bespeaks something that is not going to even be thought about. Now Richard Dalloway (John Standing) is a cabinet official, Peter Walsh (Michael Kitchen) has come home from India, and Sally is now Lady Rosseter (Sarah Badel). Of course Mrs. Dalloway's thoughts go back to her fateful decision, made over the objections of her friends, when she accepted her life of comfortable sameness. But her concern over the evening's party is just as big of a concern. For those who are trying to figure out the point of the story the seemingly unrelated plotline involving Septimus Smith (Rupert Graves) and his Italian wife (Amelia Bullmore) helps the pieces come together, especially once Mrs. Dalloway's thoughts provide the big picture.
Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris, who won as Oscar for "Antonia's Line," brings this film in at 97 minutes and while I think "Mrs. Dalloway" the film captures the essence of the novel, I cannot find it approaches the depth. What makes the novel profound is not the end point that it reaches when we reach the close of a day in the life of Clarissa Dallowy, but the journey through her jumbled thoughts. For Christmas I gave my eldest daughter the movie "The Hours" along with the Michael Cunningham novel and Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway," and I would think others would benefit from immersing themselves in the works of, and about, Virginia Woolf. "