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

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Reviews

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½ February 11, 2018
1001 movies to see before you die.
½ February 5, 2018
Wonderful adaptation of the powerful play (in which the action all happens within the house) this is one of the most intense portrayals of human relationships ever! Burton and Taylor combine to lift this film into something extraordinary.
September 3, 2017
Confusing, rambling, and quite honestly exhausting. I thought the performances were genuine enough, but the screenplay was awful. I couldn't decipher what was going on half the time with the never ending dialogue and made up stories. Also why wouldn't that couple just leave? A lot of this film just seemed so melodramatic as well. Another thing is the main characters are pretty detestable. I don't know what it is but sometimes I don't like plays as movies, because they're too vague like this one.
August 27, 2017
Burton and Taylor are fantastically spellbinding. It's like watching a train wreck.
August 4, 2017
This gorgeously ghastly drama is a must-see masterpiece, unparalleled in its haunting delivery of manic, mounting tension and its harrowing explosions of drink-infused bitterness and insanity.

Mike Nichols' spellbinding film drops all-time acting greats Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton right in the middle of a Shakespearean-grade study of alcoholism. Burton and Taylor spit daggers at one another, each sharper and shriller than the last - the sense of history and sheer bitterness between their characters evoking an air of authenticity seldom seen on screen.

But Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is much more than a showcase for some of cinema's best acting and bitterest dialogue. In fact, the note-perfect coupling of Taylor and Burton is but a bonus factor in a film that offers an eerie exploration of the link between drunkenness and insanity, punching as opposed to poking the creaky boundary between the two at every opportunity.

On the surface, Nichols' film is a piercing theatrical melodrama. Underneath, it is a psychological thriller, a ghost story, a black comedy, a brutal romance and more. In fact, one might argue that the film offers one of the richest, most honest and resonating commentaries on the age-old concept of true love that the screen has ever seen.
August 1, 2017
So, I saw a telecast London production of this 3.5 hour shout fest. I mean, there are definitely layers to this story and a good plot but oh-my-god is the whole thing just one very long drawn out scene of totally unnatural dialogue delivered in this histrionic overblown screaming. I mean, seriously, I couldn't wait for it to be over.
July 31, 2017
Aggressive and fueled with alcohol, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Boasts some level-handed performances from Richard Burton and of course, Elizabeth Taylor
July 22, 2017
Brilliant and exhausting.
July 13, 2017
Mike Nichols' original masterpiece, as much a horror as it was a comedy and a literary tragedy. This movie forced American cinema to grow up and embrace not only darker subtext and more profane subject mater, but also morally ambiguous concepts. While I'm sure Edward Albee didn't invent literary comprehension on screen, the creative team here certainly were the first to pioneer the concept to Hollywood - still stuck in the golden era.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was not only controversial for its day (one of the movies that helped bury the Hayes Code) but also a wonderfully warped mind trip that is still shocking almost 50 years after the fact. The movie has multiple layers of depraved entertainment; it is a marriage farce, a battle of old time wits (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at their most imprudent), a coarse perspective of relationship counseling, and of course, it has a plot twist so brutal, you'll never play games at the dinner table again. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has two things going for it: it's based on a play by Edward Albee (the best scripted films are always based on plays) and it's directed by Mike Nichols who has an enormous sensitivity when he's directing couples on screen. This PG rated drama is still the most disturbed thing you'll see in any given month.

What I Learned: I really think Edward Albee and Mike Nichols' creation is where I got some of my harsh and caustic wit. Of course, I always thought really disturbed and funny things in my own head, but until Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf I never knew it could be so deliciously fun to torment people with using only your quick-witted mind. There was great sadism in this sarcasm and it helped me realize there is no need to bite your tongue-at least not in art.
July 12, 2017
Mike Nichols' masterpiece remains as riveting as it was when it was first released in 1966. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are both in top form and deliver breathtaking performances. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
July 8, 2017
One of the greatest films of all time, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? is so good a 5 star rating can't do it full justice.
½ May 9, 2017
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, a.k.a., The Most Uncomfortable Nightcap In History, is a ferocious film of scathing but politely delivered insults, as only a Brit like Richard Burton can deliver, discomforting arguments and a pair of marriages which, while appearing diametrically opposed, could actually be more similar than the parties would like to admit. It has the unavoidable stage to screen difficulty of containing way too much dialogue shooting off in all directions. It works well in the theatre when you're more able to absorb yourself into the situation, but in the cinema its frustratingly alienating, and ramps up the films runtime to over 2 hours. The arguments, which drive the entire plot, are acidic, deeply personal and must've been hugely shocking at the time. It's a lot tamer nowadays, full of barbs you'll see every day on all the worst realty TV shows. But what makes the whole experience so effective is the acting. All 4 principle actors are so natural that you'd never think they were acting, particularly Elizabeth Taylor, who throws her drunken, bitter weight around in a career-defining performance. It's principle problem, as I've hinted at before, is that its non-stop verbal sparring becomes wearisome about half an hour before the credits roll, and if only some of the dialogue had been cut it would be much better to watch. With that said, it's a vicious examination of marital discord and gender politics, and it's stood the test of time on the strength of its acting, directing and acerbic wit.
½ April 19, 2017
Despite agreeing with other raving critical reviews focusing on the acting and directing, I can't get past the film's plot weaknesses. SPOILERS: Martha's about face on her feelings for George only after a lackluster attempted (or actual--who knows?) affair with Nick, George's careless repurposing of stories, then taking offense at the apparent truth, then forgetting to maintain the game, and most egregiously the reaction as if to a real death of a child (when both parties know he is fictitious)--the viewer is left struggling to maintain their suspension of reality. Not to mention the adaptation from stage to screen feels artificial and slow. If we are to gain lessons based on making life choices on ulterior motives or carelessly living in subjective truth, this is quite the slog to obtain them.
April 14, 2017
Movie about a really hateful and unhappy married couple. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are wonderful. The comedy here is gold. Especially from Taylor. That they were married in real life makes it even better. One of my all time favorite movies.
April 2, 2017
A perfect storm of talent. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton give two of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. George Segal and Sandy

This pitch perfect masterpiece feels like a burning fuse; a bitter and angsty work of genius that is volatile and angry. Mike Nichols' stupendous direction has an omniscience to it that keeps things rolling along with ease.
March 14, 2017
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is directed by Mike Nichols, and it stars Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Burton, and Sandy Dennis in a drama film about a coupl that are very tired and kept arguing with each other, and when the guests arrive, they start to mess around until the point of playing games where it's personal. When I saw this on DirecTV from TCM, I was thinking about how I've heard about this movie for a while, but I haven't got to see it for the first time, especially since it's the first film from director Mike Nichols. So with no information, I just decide to watch it, and was deeply surprised of what I gotten out of it. All of the actors gave a powerhouse performance as all of them did a fantastic job as they give a different part of their own and just steal the show from what they got, especially since the movie is all about those four, so they have to give it all they need to get. The writing by Ernest Lehman is at it's A game as it's spot-on, and it feels more natural for the fact that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were married at the time. The movie can go in two ways, whether it be a dark comedy about two couples going at each other, or a drama that feels like a horror from how relatable it is from couples that might act like this, and it shows it from both sides as it has some dark humor in it that's funny, or it can be uncomfortable in an unnerving way that does way better at portraying argument couples than This is 40 as you were suppose to like those characters that it feels really awkward to see them argue when they can be a good couple, in this, the beginning starts with them arguing already, but the tone keeps it consistent with the film that it's actually being serious about where it's going, and the viewers liking them or not is their own choice, the movie wasn't leaning towards one side. It interesting to hear them curse so much as during the old days of cinema, there wasn't much of them saying those kind of profanity because there's a tight relationship going on with the MPAA about it. I was interested in what's going on with their arguments, and I have learn about the characters as it goes on. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a fantastic film that it really showcases the acting in this that's thanks to the direction by the late Mike Nichols.
½ October 19, 2016
Hilary may have the well coiffed hair as Liz Taylor but how I wish she had Liz's spunk and wd play her little "sadistic fun and games" on the Donald -- that would be too sweet of a mindfuck. Alas, Hilary is just same ol' boring Hilary. But Liz Taylor, you my lady, can do no wrong!
July 26, 2016
What could be more fun than watching a married couple mistreat each other for 2 hours straight, and drag down another couple with them? This film makes me want to scream. It's the kind of movie they should show to couples planning a divorce, not to talk them out of it, but so they can appreciate how annoying it is when they bicker in front of other people. I suppose the acting is good, in between the screaming and drunken rambling. I suppose there's artistry in capturing on film something so obnoxious, but I don't have the proper mentality to appreciate it. It doesn't help that the way they talk to one another is so artificial and scripted. This isn't how real people interact, and it certainly wouldn't be how they'd interact under the extreme influences of alcohol. Even the most convincing performance in the world doesn't feel genuine when I can see the dialogue written out on a script page, but can't imagine them coming from someone's lips. This is clearly a stage play translated to screen, by some writer who understands emotions but not how real people express them. I'm not sure if the climax of all this screaming is intended to be a surprise, but I saw it coming hours before they verbalized it. Perhaps if anything of significance happened in this film it would have interested me at least slightly, but imagine my surprise when I realized it was merely 2 hours of bickering. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is only for the masochistic person who enjoys watching the demise of another couples' relationship. I was delighted when it ended.
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.
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