Suffocatingly beautiful, ORLANDO is a precious trifle whose literary pedigree intimidated audiences into ignoring its sublime silliness. It's visually intoxicating, with its lavish ruffs and furbelows, stately homes and manicured gardens, jewels and silks and elaborately curled hair, but
there's less to ORLANDO than meets the eye.
Based on the 1928 novel by Virginia Woolf, ORLANDO opens in 17th century London. Orlando (Tilda Swinton) is an aristocratic youth, androgynous in the fashion of the time and gravely determined to translate life, of which he knows little, into art, of which he knows even less. Orlando captures the
fancy of aging Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp), a crone who orders him not to grow old or wither. Orlando obeys, inexplicably remaining fresh-cheeked as centuries slip past. A romantic to his core, Orlando suffers mightily his unrequited love for the enchanting Russian princess Sasha (Charlotte
Valandrey); when she proves false, he seeks out an extended term as England's ambassador to Arabia. One day, Orlando falls into a deep sleep and, when he awakens days later, has undergone a miraculous sex change. Orlando's adventures continue, and she spends the ensuing centuries refusing to
behave differently simply because she's now a woman.
ORLANDO is undeniably ravishing, and its politics are almost suspiciously in tune with the times. But beneath the glittering surface is precious little substance: this is a date movie for aspiring intellectuals, a source of smug satisfaction at having chosen to see a thought-provoking movie,
unspoiled by the realization that there isn't much to think about.
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Suffocatingly beautiful, ORLANDO is a precious trifle whose literary pedigree intimidated audiences into ignoring its sublime silliness. It's visually intoxicating, with its lavish ruffs and furbelows, stately homes and manicured gardens, jewels and silks… (more)