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.
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.