Orlando - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Orlando Reviews

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December 29, 2016
The sixteenth century English nobleman Orlando (both the star of Virginia Woolf's "Orlando: A Biography" [1928] and Sally Potter's emboldened 1992 film adaptation) lived the kind of life all are simultaneously desperate to live and entirely afraid of. Born a man, Orlando (Tilda Swinton) was ordered by Elizabeth I (here comedically played by Quentin Crisp) to stay forever long, to make a mark on every century to cross his path. To succeed would provide him with one of Elizabeth's prized estates, and, being a young man with an affinity for unrefusable offers, he did, even changing sexes toward the middle of his run from the late 1400s to the film's present-day. And what a beguiling thing that is, watching as gender roles, times, and obstacles change over centuries through the eyes of both the female and the male.
Though unfamiliar with Woolf's novella, its being one hundred eighty-four pages and its reputational standing as a fictional biographical account styled as a romp calls for safe assumptions that writer/director Potter's acclimatization does justice to its game-changing source material. With the book holding court as a feminist classic thanks not only to its being written by a woman but also by its giving substance to gender fluidity and general inequalities between the sexes and the classes, then the cinematic "Orlando" does too.
While there's a certain visual extravagance -- augmented by tongue-in-cheek humor sustained by a smart usage of fourth-wall breaking -- to maintain its slightly surreal textures, splendid is the way it explores androgyny itself without batting an eye but still takes the time to ponder gender dynamics and their transformations from 1500 to now. The film jumps ahead fifty years or so every twentysomething minutes, but even its brisk analyzations don't hinder its many stimuli. It provocates and it dazzles, all the while cultivating an effortlessly light tone that renders it as being ambitious but not off-puttingly so.
But because of its rather nomadic structuring, we never get much of a grip on Orlando themselves, as it oftentimes goes for characters more representation than person. We never get to be much attached to them because such little effort is put forth to de-alienize them -- we're unremittingly confronted by a charming symbol that never serves as anything other than a catalyst for Woolf and Potter's machinations. Swinton, though, is interminably likable, always watchable (even when the person she's playing seems like a piece of paper in comparison to her wonderfully mysterious persona).
But while the latter's striking and while Potter's visual treatment is sensational, with fitting touches of unreality, "Orlando" itself is a mixed bag. It's expertly performed and pieced together, but the peripatetic nature of its origin disallows it from consequentiality. I speculate it more likely will appeal to those well-versed in Woolf's oeuvre. Outsiders, however, might find it zesty but shallow.
March 12, 2016
Movies about transgender people don't number that many (at least in mainstream cinema), and even less so the further back you go, so ORLANDO is somewhat unique by virtue of its very existence. Based on a Virginia Woolf novel (which I haven't yet read, but definitely want to), it tells the story of Orlando, an English nobleman blessed/cursed with immortality and who changes sex from male to female. Without going into spoiler territory (e.g., when and why Orlando changes), the film is largely concerned with social roles and expectations of men and women, unfairness in how women have been treated, etc. I thought it was rather interesting to for Orlando to be possessive of a woman he fancies early in the film, only to be on the receiving end of a similar proposal later on as a woman. And then there was my favorite scene where Orlando sits in on a discussion between several famous writers/poets (including Alexander Pope). All of the feminist discussion and thematic content alone makes this worth a watch, but there are a few minor quibbles to be had. The chief one is due to the main character's immortality. You get several sections in different time periods that show Orlando's progress, but it gives the film an episodic feel at times. I also wasn't terribly satisfied with the way it ended, although I'd be at a loss to posit an alternate ending without extending the running time further (and I thought it was a good length already). Suffice it to say, this is one of the best performances I've ever seen out of Tilda Swinton, although she was less convincing as a man than a woman (for obvious reasons). Still, her character isn't the only fun the film has with gender fluidity, as Queen Elizabeth is played by Quentin Crisp and there are a couple castrati who provide some diegetic music. Aside from the performances, the production design, sets, costumes, and score were all equally good. For more open-minded viewers, I can wholeheartedly recommend this. It will definitely affect the way you think about gender/gender roles.
½ September 21, 2015
Utilizing gorgeous period costumes, a dreamy atmosphere, and a heavily stylized production to intentionally shove off sweeping generalizations stemming from sexist ideology regarding the female and the nature of her success being tied to the male, Sally Potter presents Orlando as a multi-generational expression of female ownership in the face of oppressive power structures. She repeatedly positions "unconventional" notions of the fluidity of gender and sexuality as natural (as opposed to unnatural, as they're so often accused of being), and though she tethers the notion of sex to the physical body, she makes a greater connection between sex and the mind (and rightfully so). The culmination of this bizarre period piece is an unflinching expression of female agency, the female asserting dominance by way of filming her surroundings, a fitting act of ownership given the medium the character exists within. Through its uncompromising nature, Orlando all but demands its place as the strange and artful alternative to more conventional pieces of feminist filmmaking, becoming something truly special in the process.
April 29, 2015
I liked this film more than the book.
Beautiful images, Tilda Swinton is convincing as a man as much as a woman (even more, at times)
½ March 24, 2015
Has periods and moments of greatness, but is consistently let down by several weak elements, like the asinine breaking of the fourth wall and Billy Zane, who I'm not violently opposed to, but whose presence here seems completely out of place and actively lowers the tone and one's estimation of Orlando the character. The first two acts are really good, especially Swinton's performance (when she's not looking at the camera) but it doesn't manage to pull off the ending.
August 10, 2014
????? ?????????? ?????? ? ?????? ?????? ???.
April 5, 2014
Did not enjoy my time watching this film. I mean, I love Tilda Swinton but this film just confused the hell out of me.
I was assigned to watch it for my Gender class.
March 4, 2014
ne anlatt???n? son k?s?mlar?na kadar alg?layamad???m? dü?ünüyordum. kad?n?n yeri mi, insan ili?kileri mi? ba?lad??? yerde ve bir zaferle bitmesi güzel olmu?.
½ December 24, 2013
good ideas
i don't feel like rating it higher but i liked it
½ December 22, 2013
One great casting choice surrounded by several abysmal casting choices.
November 1, 2013
"Do not fade, do not wither, do not grow old." Extraordinarily beautiful fantasy adapted from a Virginia Wolfe short story, starring Tilda Swinton as the Elizabethan courtier who stops aging and lives to the present day- changing from a man to a woman somewhere around the 18th century. Jimmy Somerville's divine voice opens and closes this film as 400+ years of sexual politics are seen from both sides of the fence. It's hard to single out one section as better than another- though the Elizabethan section quite beautifully captured the music and dance from that era that I really love- but everything in this film is beautifully filmed, acted and written.
½ October 20, 2013
Beautifully filmed. Story doesn't flow fluently, but it doesn't matter. Interesting look at different gender through the body of one person. With the light tone of the film, it suits. The very last scene did put me off a little bit, but I guess that's iconic to Orlando in every chapter of his/her life.
October 19, 2013
Definitely one of the best movies of the twentieth century.
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.
August 8, 2013
Simply one of the most gorgeous movies ever made, as well as being very funny, heart rending, and spiritual.
May 17, 2013
A very different kind of film.
April 26, 2013
simplesmente a história de alguém que busca «a vida e um amor» de um sentido para a sua existência.
April 26, 2013
simplesmente a história de alguém que busca «a vida e um amor» um sentido para sua existencia
April 14, 2013
This is a gender bending period flic that covers some 400 yrs. So, there is a heavy dose of fantasy and symbolism at play. The movie is derived from a novel by Virginia Woolf. The story is of a young man who lives over 4 centuries, never aging. And, in the middle of it, he becomes a she. The director, Sally Potter, commented she was interested in exploring the common humanness of both men and women.

Orlando (Tilda Swinton) is well played by the actress. She is flat-out excellent. Although, I could not buy her as a young man. She makes a much better woman.

The sets and costuming were very rich and impressive. The story left me behind. I am not a fantasy fan. I suspect this movie might appeal more to women (young) than to men. I dont know many men who wonder about living as a woman. Its not on the male radar. Although, I bet some women ponder the male role in society. But, Ms Swinton is worth checking out.

It was an OK flic.
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