A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Sometimes being pushed to go beyond one's comfort zone can be beneficial.
Positive Role Models
Virginia led a rigid and protected life in order to be able to write and maintain her fragile mental stability. Vita was famed for having many affairs.
The fluidity of sexual orientation is a subject. Gay men are married to gay women for the purposes of social propriety but have affairs on the side. Feminist ideas, the independence of wives, the notion that women can lead as complex and varied lives as men are all discussed. Men condescend when speaking to and about women. A physician who is consulted over Virginia's mental problems suggests Virginia's health is dependent on giving up writing, too stressful an intellectual activity for women. "Women can't cope with too much gray matter."
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Violence & Scariness
A woman has spells of emotional disability that her loved ones fear will lead to dangerous self harm.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two women kiss and have sex. A breast is seen. Two men are seen in bed together. Someone speaking of lesbian sex remarks that, "It does seem a shame to forfeit penetration." A woman is asked for the moment of her "greatest disillusionment." She replies, "The first time I saw a penis."
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"Damn," "ass," and "penis."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vita & Virginia is about the affair that upper-crust British socialite and popular writer Vita Sackville-West relentlessly pursued with the mentally unstable Bloomsbury writer Virginia Woolf. The two are seen having sex, with kissing and briefly exposed breasts. Greater society looked down on such scandals but their socially enlightened circle accepted their and other same-sex relationships, at the same time as keeping them hidden. The emphasis is on the hypocrisy of an upper crust that condoned "marriages of convenience" as long as they didn't ruin great families' reputations. Because of its complicated human relations and literary backdrop, this movie will probably appeal only to older teens. Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Language includes "damn," "ass," and "penis." A woman has spells of emotional disability that her loved ones fear will lead to dangerous self harm. The film is based on a play that relied on the real-life correspondence between the title characters. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This romantic drama is unlikely to interest most teens. The real problem with Vita & Virginia is that Vita is so thoroughly unlikable and yet she looms large as the wan Virginia's love interest as well as the muse who inspired one of Woolf's oddest works, Orlando. We want to see what Virginia sees in Vita, but what we see isn't pretty, a fickle, disloyal, selfish, insensitive heartbreaker, not the best partner for someone suffering from debilitating mental illness. This often feels overly earnest, dry, and static, and other times burdened with excessive explication that offers to the uninitiated just who Virginia Woolf was and how influential her group was.
On the other hand, we need more explanation as Virginia's moments of mental imbalance, hallucinations, and inner voices depict her as needing care, a fragile wisp too breakable to withstand ordinary life. Here, Virginia, known to be witty, just seems ponderous and socially backward. Scenes between her and Vita almost reduce her to childishness and their conversations are dull, earnest, and obscure. One is never sure exactly what Virginia means half the time. Decipher this one: "I shan't make you want me anymore by giving myself away like this." The film's unintentionally funniest line comes when someone remarks that Virginia doesn't look well while she's immersed for months writing a new book. Deadpan, expressionless, and corpselike, she disagrees, and replies, "Do you not think I look full of life?" No, Virginia, we do not. After several attempts, Woolf would eventually commit suicide in 1941, at the age 59, drowning herself in the River Ouse.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.