Orlando Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2011
Simply put one of the best movies I have ever seen. The cast is amazing and deliver in their performances, the stunning visuals and beautiful music combine to create a dreamy atmosphere through which S. Potter uses Orlando as a medium to make subtle and elegant commentaries about life, the human condition and the struggle of the sexes to understand each other when they are basically two aspects of the same coin. As opposed to some of the other reviewers here I did not find the movie slow or boring at any time. Nor is it just about Orlando; there are multiple layers. It flows simply and quietly but with great intensity and an underlying irony at every moment. This film must be Potter's masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
½ June 17, 2007
A young nobleman in the seventeenth century makes a promise to his Queen to never grow old, living on through to the twentieth after undergoing the transformation to womanhood. Based on a story by Virginian Woolf, Orlando is an ambitious attempt to portray gender issues spanning the centuries. Tilda Swinton shares the limelight with some wonderful costumes and locations, appearing just at home in doublet and hoes as a corset and bustle and her central performance is arresting. It's a pity that the rest of the cast don't really get a look in, as the story is represented as a series of all-too-short vignettes where some initially intriguing supporting characters appear briefly but are gone again before there is any chance to explore them or relationship with Orlando. This is a real shame because some of the scenes, especially concerning her receiving the kind of attitudes that she was herself guilty of having when she was a man, had real potential. This is doubly true of Zane's character who is the other side of the coin of Orlando's transformation. It is sometimes guilty of being too "arty" for its own good, the gimmicky casting of Quentin Crisp as Elizabeth I (although it could be argued that he is the perfect choice to play an old queen...) and the appearance of Jimmy Somerville as a golden angel overstep the boundary to campness. It's certainly an interesting and beautifully realised film visually, but Benjamin Button did something similar with a lot more heart.
Super Reviewer
½ May 23, 2009
A true forgotten classic. Watching Orlando is heartbreaking because you know they're never going to make another film as bizarre or beautiful as this ever again. Modern Hollywood just wouldn't allow something involving an androgynous immortal, inexplicable gender changes, the breaking of the fourth wall, and a bizarrely evangelical ending to be distributed, let alone created for 5 million dollars.

This is art. It doesn't always make sense, but trying to parse it and giving it personal meaning makes the experience completely worthwhile. Kudos to Sally Potter for creating such an uncompromising adaptation of a Virginia Woolf novel. Kudos to Tilda Swinton, who I fall more in love with every day and who has one of the most exciting and diverse filmographies of any living performer today. Kudos to all involved with this striking, unique, powerful innovation.
Super Reviewer
December 13, 2008
This is Sally Potter's beautiful, otherworldly adaptation of Virginia Woolf's story. Orlando reaches a tone, a temperature, a state of dream-like ambiguity that many other art films often thrive to possess. It's immediately enchanting on the surface: fantastic set design, photography, make-up, costumes and music, but there's a fascinating substance underneath it all.

Orlando is born into a noble English family in the 17th Century. Ever since he's a youth he is enamored with poetry and love, and little else. His mother, mortified by her old age and by death, leaves him her palace as inheritance, with the condition that he remain young forever. Orlando's life extends itself through centuries, during which time he also gets disillusioned with his virility after a romantic frustration and decides to try his luck at love from a woman's perspective.

The spirit of this film is Tilda Swinton's epic performance. This is a role cut out for her. She makes perfect use of her androgynous looks and her characteristic refinement to play Orlando. She's not particularly my favorite actress, but here she's wonderful, as is all the supporting cast. Billy Zane has a brief but relevant appearance and delivers a lovely performance.

So... Orlando attracted me for the intriguing storyline, how Sally Potter would manage to bring it to life, and for Swinton's demanding role. I think it shouldn't be missed precisely for its success in all those areas. It's quite different from many other films, especially because of its very original source material.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2007
This epic film had me glued to the TV. This is a gender bending ride through history!
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2007
I liked this OK, although I'm not really sure I understood it. Anyone?
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2012
Nice interesting gender switching tale here that is utterly thought provoking. No one other than Tilda Swinton could make it work as well as it does.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2013
Orlando is a pleasant surprise after being bored to death by The Man Who Cried. This highly surrealistic epic takes place over about four centuries (+). Immediately there is a gender confusion in the audience, is Swinton playing a woman or a male? Eventually this is answered, but it goes through a gruesome process to get to clarity. Adapted from Virgina Woolf's novel , this is separated into pieces and themes, my favorites were Love, Death, and Society. The film has highly praised, artistic design, and it is worthy of it. The film swifts from century to century in smooth fashion, making it never a bore. Swinton is great in her many roles as Orlando. For the most part I enjoyed the surrealism, but that last angel scene was painfully cheesy.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2008
Only Tilda Swinton could pull off sexual ambiguity through the ages this well.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2008
I yearn for one thing only: to revive Virginia Woolf for 2 hours and let her enjoy her creation on-screen.
Super Reviewer
½ February 12, 2008
A very interesting view on life from an even more fascinating character. Have to see it again, since the first time I was too distracted by it's wonderful costumes and locations.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2007
Great movie.
Super Reviewer
July 22, 2006
Fantastic. I only saw it once ages ago and yet almost every scene seems be imprinted firmly into my mind.
½ February 9, 2010
Fiercely unique and non-conformist, this film actually becomes more bearable (and even lovable) as it progresses. Tilda Swinton's face was made for filming and her natural androgyny is perfect for the part. I found the sequences when she is a woman more enjoyable but that may merely be because I prefer women.
½ December 12, 2008
This is an amazing movie that is hard to explain in words and has to be seen, but can i say is the hedge maze seen is one of the most coolest transition scenes i have witnessed.
½ July 26, 2008
Not at all impressed really with this existential exploration through time. Though this was more coherent than The Fountain, it plays like vignettes which is fine, although this allows an all too disjointed view of the character. It reallly just gives a peek into how this one person shows us that he's the same person as both man and women (which Swinton plays as both here, with her elfen features that is statuesque and immoble). It tries to come full circle but eventually just kinda loses my interest, at least it was only 90 minutes.
½ November 2, 2007
beautiful, interesting movie. difficult to describe--just see it! Swinton is wonderful and breathtaking, imo. points off for the ending which is so cheesey that it's lol funny, but overall it's 98% fabulous.
July 9, 2007
Definitely a different movie. I have to say this was one of the more strange movies that I have seen in a while. I think Tilda Swinton did quite a good job with this role. All of the other characters just seemed thrown in the mix in an odd sort of way. It makes me want to read the book just to see what the story really was about. I don't think that Sally Potter really gave enough information as to what was going on. I don't think I would really recommend this movie.
½ June 27, 2007
I had to watch this movie twice to really "get it". Now I do....and I hope you do too. It's visually stunning and complicated...
February 12, 2007
What can I say? Guy lives for hundreds of years and turns into a girl. Very interesting. The book is better, but the movie's still excellent.
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