Mrs. Dalloway

  • 1997
  • 1 HR 37 MIN
  • PG-13
  • Drama

A surprisingly supple adaptation of Virginia Woolf's dense stream-of-consciousness novel. The action is confined to one hot summer day in 1923, as middle-aged English matron Clarissa Dalloway (Vanessa Redgrave) prepares to give a party and finds herself haunted by thoughts of old friends and lovers. Frequent flashbacks bridge the present and the past, specifically...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A surprisingly supple adaptation of Virginia Woolf's dense stream-of-consciousness novel. The action is confined to one hot summer day in 1923, as middle-aged English matron Clarissa Dalloway (Vanessa Redgrave) prepares to give a party and finds

herself haunted by thoughts of old friends and lovers. Frequent flashbacks bridge the present and the past, specifically the summer three decades earlier when young Clarissa's (Natascha McElhone) fateful choices -- chief among them her decision to marry staid future politician Richard Dalloway

(Robert Portal/John Standing), rather than impulsive Peter Walsh (Alan Cox/Peter Kitchen) -- set her on the path that made her the woman she is. Also on Clarissa's mind is her intensely romantic friendship with bold, charismatic Sally Seton (Lena Headey/Sarah Badel), a far more rebellious young

woman than Clarissa could ever have been. Though often read as an indictment of the English class system, Mrs. Dalloway is primarily a character study. Clarissa Dalloway is a hugely subtle character, an intelligent and fundamentally decent woman whose horizons have been progressively

circumscribed by class conventions, social mores and a certain fragility of character that inclines her to conform rather than rebel, until her energies are entirely absorbed by the superficial pursuit of hosting parties. Given that Mrs. Dalloway is to all appearances the most unsuitable

novel in the world for adaptation to the screen -- it's all thought and no action -- director Marleen Gorris and actress turned screenwriter Eileen Atkins have done an astonishing job. But the film rests on the shoulders of Redgrave and McElhone, who together create a quietly heartbreaking

portrait of a deeply contradictory character who's simultaneously contented and restless, brittle and resilient, timid and impulsive, high-strung and surprisingly steadfast. Sure, the pace is stately and there are awkward moments, but overall it's a remarkable and moving achievement.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: A surprisingly supple adaptation of Virginia Woolf's dense stream-of-consciousness novel. The action is confined to one hot summer day in 1923, as middle-aged English matron Clarissa Dalloway (Vanessa Redgrave) prepares to give a party and finds herself h… (more)

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