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Orlando can't match its visual delights with equally hefty narrative -- but it's so much fun to watch that it doesn't need to.
All Critics (56)
| Top Critics (18)
| Fresh (47)
| Rotten (9)
The film's wit and layered sense of history seem richer than ever.
The good news about this historical vaudeville is that Orlando's consciousness, like his/her gender, is a delightful work-in-progress.
What it lacks in coherence it makes up for in sheer spectacle.
Though visually impressive and assured, it is the hollowest of successes, all chic set design, smug posturing and self-satisfied attitude.
Reminiscent of the low-budget lushness of the early films of Peter Greenaway and Ken Russell, Orlando could turn out to be the art-house smash of the summer.
Potter possesses a natural gracefulness in presentation that helps a little but, finally, not nearly enough. Orlando is vague when she means it to be mysterious, coy when it ought to be witty, familiar when it should be bold.
Despite my misgivings about book-to-film adaptations, Sally Potter's "Orlando" impressed the hell out of me. It's opulent, cheeky, and fun as hell. Woolf would be proud.
Unlike anything onscreen this month or this year, Orlando is serious, provocative and sometimes funny fare. Novelist Virginia Woolf might well be pleased.
Writer-director Sally Potter's film, based on the classic Virginia Woolf novel, is a lyrical history lesson on the nature of sexual politics.
Credit where credit is due: Potter more or less successfully converted a crazy, overflowing tome into something simple and attractive.
Sumptuous and witty book-to-screen treatment for Virginia Woolf's novel, with graceful and ambitious direction by Sally Potter.
It wanders from the frozen London of the 1600s to the battlefields of World War I and has fun all the way. You haven't seen anything like it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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