Vita & Virginia

Updated: Oct 1, 2019


Director Chanya Button brings an intimate, passion-fuelled version of the notorious lesbian love affair between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, the doyens of the Bloomsbury group, to the screen. The sets are impeccable with resplendent, artistic interiors and the couture costumes have a contemporary dash, befitting the glossiest of coffee table journals. A pulsating score swells throughout the film, giving the affair a sexy edge.

Elizabeth Debick and Gemma Arterton in Vita & Virginia


Director Chanya Button

Cast Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones

Ireland-UK 2018, 110 minutes





The two leads are beguiling. Gemma Arterton as Vita the artistocrat and Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia the bohemian, both effortlessly slipping into their roles of society cause celebres.

Although the accents are rather clipped, there are no stiff upper lips when it comes to seduction.


"The sets are impeccable with resplendent, artistic interiors and the couture costumes have a contemporary dash, befitting the glossiest of coffee table journals. A pulsating score swells throughout the film, giving the affair a sexy edge. "

"When finally rejected by her seducer, Woolf’s only reaction was to write a groundbreaking novel on the fluidity of gender and love based on her affair with Sackville-West, Orlando."

Woolf’s well-documented mental illness (most memorably portrayed by Nicole Kidman in Stephen Daldry’s brilliant screen version of Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours), surfaces throughout the film highlighting many aspects of the writer’s temperament and why she anchored herself to her devoted, protective husband Leonard in a world which couldn’t fathom her sexuality. Even the cavalier Vita, with the untouchable privileges of the aristocrat, was kept in place by threats of losing her son.


The literary layers of the film are manifold. Based on Eileen Atkin’s stage play which uses their love letters for inspiration, Button cleverly shows how one of the seminal love stories of the twentieth century was set in print. When finally rejected by her seducer, Woolf’s only reaction was to write a groundbreaking novel on the fluidity of gender and love based on her affair with Sackville-West, Orlando.


@BFIFlare  #BFIFlare @VitaAndVirginia

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