Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Reviews

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½ July 3, 2016
It starts to drag in the second half but Taylor and Burton are magnificent throughout this strange merciless film.
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ June 8, 2016
As this black and white film opens and the credits are rolling, we see a couple leaving a party and walking slowly back to their house. They're arm-in-arm and seemingly all is quiet and right with the world. The second the action starts, when Liz Taylor flicks on the light and we begin hearing her talk with Richard Burton, we know all is definitely not right. And thus begins 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'.

The two play a college history professor and his wife, who is also the dean's daughter, and we quickly come to know that they are (a) very unhappy and frustrated with one another, (b) highly blunt and sarcastic in expressing this, and (c) functioning alcoholics. The first scene which lasts something like 50 minutes and has a younger professor and his wife (George Segal and Sandy Dennis) coming over to drinks is absolutely stunning. The script and Taylor and Burton's performances are outstanding. Humiliation, flirting with the opposite sex, telling stories and confusing "truth and illusion" to play mind games with the other are the order of the day, and the two serve it up again and again in ways which may make your jaw drop.

The movie is minimalistic in the sense that it only has these four major characters, two extremely minor characters (who briefly appear when they visit a roadside bar), and it all takes place in a single night, mostly in their home. However, the performances are explosive and 'larger than life'. Taylor in particular really put herself out there, because let's face it, putting on weight and acting like a loud, cheap, bully is far more dangerous for a woman than it is for a man. Images of the SNL sketch from a decade later may come to your mind as she munches on a chicken leg and then carelessly tosses the bone back on the plate in the fridge. She is absolutely exceptional, and was worthy of the Academy Award she received. I was also reminded of the power in some of Jennifer Lawrence's recent performances as I watched her, but Taylor takes it to another level. Burton is also fantastic, trying to remain intellectual and appear above it all, but displaying a frustrated rage within and constantly needling all the three of the other characters. When he goes out for the rifle in the garage as Taylor is telling an embarrassing story about him and returns with it, we feel serious tension, and I thought first-time director Mike Nichols did a great job here and throughout the movie.

It loses a teeny bit of momentum towards the middle, and I have to say, the story behind their child, whose apparent death seems to be an explanation for why they've gone a bit kooky, but who has been an imaginary child all along, does not ring true, at least in the emotions it evokes out of each of them. While it's a symbol of an unrealized dream they share, just as Burton's failure to advance in the hierarchy at the college is, to me this is a weakness in the original play. The ending, which as them tenderly resigned to one another despite all that bickering and fighting (and bottle breaking, and choking!), is powerful nonetheless. It's not exactly a feel-good movie, but it's one that will stir you.
½ May 30, 2016
A bit too theatrical.
May 13, 2016
A masterpiece. A spellbinding whirlwind of magnificent acting from four immense talents, who were all playing perfect examples of multi-dimensional characters, in a script with complex writing and immense depth. Bonus points for first time director Mike Nichols' brilliant use of camera angles, brought to life brilliantly by master cinematographer Haskell Wexler.
April 16, 2016
Damn, this is difficult to watch. Taylor is unbelievable. Probably one of the all time great movie performances. Burton, Dennis and Segal are all also solid. It's like watching a trainwreck, you know you should look away but you just can't. The performances and the sharp writing keep you watching.
March 31, 2016
Should've been called "A Night at the Burtons".
March 15, 2016
Elizabeth Taylor gives the performance of her career, and the great Richard Burton is perfect in this dual tour de force, the 1966 film of Edward Albee's play. Expertly directed by Mike Nichols, with support from George Segal and Sandy Dennis. A dissection of marriage, alcoholism, and the thin line between love and hate. Nobody survives unscathed.
March 14, 2016
so Who's afraid of Virginia woolf is a highly charged maritial drama that actually really impressed me as I did not think I was going to like it. Also I must say who's afraid of Virginia woolf is quite the mysterious saying

The movie looks at one of the more interesting relationships you'll see with a married couple. I have seen a lot of films about volatile relationships and so I can tell this is the OG film of that particular category.

These two are like almost the definition of a love/hate marriage. Richard burton and Elizabeth taylor are electric together. they both have a serious emotional dependence on each other. It's most apparent with Martha while George uses verbal insults and sarcasm to hide his emotional dependence on her. the tension is sort of the driving force here as the clearly have went through more than their fair share in their marriage and have somewhat come across an unpleasant road during their partnership.


Mike Nichols directing debut is phenomenal as he successfully brings to life this play and makes it into a highly charged intriguing picture. The biggest motif in this film are the unravelings the peeling back of layers by all the characters. love the score

this ladies and gentlemen is a raw no holds barred picture. definitely worth checking out
March 7, 2016
Stage play adapted into a great film, the directorial debut of Mike Nichols. The film is simple, only four characters, and it has some great old black and white photography...but what really knocks this picture out of the park is the cast. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are both phenomenal (Taylor is practically unrecognizable to her contemporary self), and they are joined by decent supporting performances from George Segal and Sandy Dennis. The plot is simple an aging bitter and alcoholic couple invite a younger couple over and then proceed to battle each other and use the younger couple in their fights and games. The plot isn't really the point, the characterizations are. It is a fine small character driven movie, with what was probably Taylor's finest performance.
½ February 18, 2016
A focused and excellently acted true classic about a dysfunctional marriage.
January 26, 2016
A dark, comic tragedy. Party games bring out the worst in hosts and guests, as truth is slowly revealed throughout a drunken night. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are perfect here as the dysfunctional husband and wife who share a hatred and a weird love for each other. Their various interactions and pointed quips at each other are a joy to watch. Mike Nichols does a great job directing the film, his disorienting camera work helps to bring the audience into the madness of the movie. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a powerful film that deals with themes of reality and fantasy. It's a must-see.
January 3, 2016
Powered by extreme verbal nastiness and a taste for the visceral, Virginia Woolf truly is an uncomfortable and terrifying cinematic experience, picking apart repressed fears and anxieties while brutally painting a bucolic portrait of bourgeois academia.
½ November 5, 2015
Really unpleasant bickering. Miserable. Saw it in Hollywood. Terribly unpleasant as a date movie.
October 24, 2015
A man can put up with only so much.

A broken couple that do nothing but belittle each other have a young couple over to hopefully improve communication and build upon their relationship; unfortunately, communicating makes matters worse and the young couple may be more than they appear. The night takes a drastic turn and what was supposed to be an innocent night turns into an evening that will change the couple's lives forever.

"He spent God's money and saved his own."

Mike Nichols, director of The Graduate, The Birdcage, Charlie Wilson's War, Closer, Wolf, Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Primary Colors, and Catch-22, delivers Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf in his directorial debut. The storyline for this picture is very well written and contains unique and dynamic characters. The acting is remarkable and the cast includes Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, and Sandy Dennis.

"Which are you, a house boy or stud?"

This recently came on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) so I had to DVR this masterpiece. This was my first time watching this and I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of this picture and the wonderful interactions between characters. This is an all time classic that is worth adding to your DVD collection if you're a fan of the classics.

"You've gone crazy too."

Grade: A+
½ September 10, 2015
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf its a complex movie that let us a lot of things to think about it and a lot of material to assimilate, and because of this confusing plot where the spectator doesn't know if are be telling the truth or not, the big revelation at the end could not be received. However this movie has to be watched with very attention, because after we watch it it let us the sensation that we finished to watch at 2 hours of argument between the couple, but behind that argument there are a lot of outstanding performanes expecially by Elizabeth Taylor that turned this story very credible, what she just did no one actress of that epoch could have done, she doesn't just interpreted Martha, she dressed Martha's skin and became her. The athmosphere is very well portrayed, all the cast was impeccable all the time, making this, with no doubts, one of the more well acted movies ever, and we have to thank these actors, because they made the movie better than it should be, they made us ask ourselves if the movie is just fiction or if its something real, and that is something very important. The story is very original and the cast make her interesting with their perfect drunk people performances, and with a help of clever dialogues and arguments between the characters, and that unexpected end, this movie could be considered a masterpiece, but I'm afraid that some spectators could not understand the final act because of its confusing plot where don't let us perceive if what they are saying is the truth or not.
½ September 8, 2015
Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf its a complex movie that let us a lot of things to think about it and a lot of material to assimilate, and because of this confusing plot where the spectator doesn't know if are be telling the truth or not, the big revelation at the end could not be received. However this movie has to be watched with very attention, because after we watch it it let us the sensation that we finished to watch at 2 hours of argument between the couple, but behind that argument there are a lot of outstanding performanes expecially by Elizabeth Taylor that turned this story very credible, what she just did no one actress of that epoch could have done, she doesn't just interpreted Martha, she dressed Martha's skin and became her. The athmosphere is very well portrayed, all the cast was impeccable all the time, making this, with no doubts, one of the more well acted movies ever, and we have to thank these actors, because they made the movie better than it should be, they made us ask ourselves if the movie is just fiction or if its something real, and that is something very important. The story is very original and the cast make her interesting with their perfect drunk people performances, and with a help of clever dialogues and arguments between the characters, and that unexpected end, this movie could be considered a masterpiece, but I'm afraid that some spectators could not understand the final act because of its confusing plot where don't let us perceive if what they are saying is the truth or not.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2015
It's like watching a grenade explode in slow-motion.
½ July 2, 2015
A much-acclaimed play, but save for some excellent, witty dialogue, particularly from Burton's character, I don't see the appeal. Burton and Taylor's on-screen rapport is legendary and this film lives up to it. They feed off one another brilliantly.
½ June 18, 2015
Raw and intense. Great performances.
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