Movie Review: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

As I mentioned last week, the next movie on the list was one I wasn’t looking forward to. Now, I love Elizabeth Taylor and I think she’s an amazing actress. My favorite movie of hers is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives are superb. But I’m not a big fan of people who scream a lot. I knew Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would be an uncomfortable viewing experience. The blurb from IMDb wasn’t encouraging:

A bitter aging couple with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.

This is what my boys thought of the movie.

Miles couldn't stand watching and had to keep his eyes closed.

Miles couldn’t stand watching and had to keep his eyes closed.

That's Att sitting on the toilet. I'll let you interpret his thoughts.

That’s Att sitting on the toilet. I’ll let you interpret his thoughts.

Now I agree with Miles, it was difficult to watch. Let me start by saying what I liked about the film. The acting. You can’t talk about this movie without mentioning Taylor and Richard Burton. Both were sensational in this film. I thought since the film only has four characters I may get bored. But I didn’t and it helped tremendously that George Segal and Sandy Dennis were able to handle their own.

The writing is fantastic. This movie relies a lot on dialogue, and while I was cringing most of the time, I have to admit that the dialogue was spot on. George (Burton) and Martha (Taylor) say the most awful things to each other and in front of their guests. Seriously, I was uncomfortable when either of them started to speak.

This film is only the second film to receive Academy Award nominations in every available category. Just in case you were wondering, the other film is Cimarron. Elizabeth Taylor won for Best Actress and Sandy Dennis won for Supporting Actress. The male actors didn’t win and the movie didn’t take Best Picture.

It’s not an easy film to watch, just ask Miles. But if you can stomach it, I do recommend it. I know I won’t be watching it again anytime soon. I’m still traumatized. Up next is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Oh what a relief. A movie that’s fun and not emotionally draining.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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72 Responses to Movie Review: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

  1. Clearly, the boys win in this review. How funny it would be to make them the Siskel and Ebert of your movie reviews! Have to admit, I’ve not seen the movie. Maybe I’ll skip it.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    • TBM says:

      I should start writing the reviews from their perspective. Except Att hardly ever likes anything unless it’s food. Don’t blame you for wanting to skip it. If it wasn’t for my challenge, I probably never would have.

  2. niasunset says:

    I don’t remember this film, but I supposed that I didn’t miss any film of this couple, I will check. But can I watch 🙂 I think I will be same your little friends, dear TBM, I love them so much. Blessing and Happiness to you all. Thanks and Love, nia

  3. Vishy says:

    Nice review, TBM. I read the Edward Albee play version sometime. Nice to know that the film is quite powerful, though difficult to watch. It makes me think of the Roman Polanski movie ‘Carnage’. Have you seen that? It has a similar plot – two couple meet in one of their homes and have a polite conversation which becomes heated after a while.

    Hope you enjoy watching ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. It is one of my favourite adventure movies and I think it is the best one of the Indiana Jones series. I fell in love with Harrison Ford after watching it.

  4. I, for one, shall be following the advice of M&A. If I want uncomfortable dialogue, I can quite easily instigate my own…

    • TBM says:

      I like the sound of M & A, but A might demand that his initial should be first. I’m trying to image you in an uncomfortable conversation.

  5. What a fun review :). I’ve never seen this movie, but now you have me curious!

  6. Have never watched it (through choice) but I do love Elizabeth Taylor. Think I’d still choose Raiders of the Lost Ark though for a night in!

  7. Robin says:

    I saw the movie years ago, and from what I remember of it, your review is spot on. Looks like Miles and Att are good helpers when it comes to reviews. 🙂

  8. adinparadise says:

    LOL @ your two movie critics. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      They weren’t fans of all the screaming. I think it made Miles nervous and Att doesn’t like it when he’s not center of attention.

  9. Colline says:

    Raiders is definitely a fun one to watch- you are sure to enjoy it 🙂

  10. Oh, Raiders is the perfect antidote for this one! Can’t imagine ever watching Virginia Woolf again.
    The pics of Miles and Att are priceless. 🙂

  11. I haven’t seen this movie. I’ll put in on my movie list. Cute photos of ATT and Miles:)The toilet bowl photo is simply adorable!

    • TBM says:

      He’s been spending a lot of time exploring the bathroom and it got my hopes up that he was trying to toilet train himself. Then I saw him climb through the bathroom window to get outside and my hopes were dashed. I still have to clean the litter box.

  12. I have not seen this film in over thirty years, but when I did see it, I was thoroughly entertained and recall it was like watching a car crash i.e., I didn’t want to look, but I could not stop watching. It’s definitely not the type of film I wanted to see again anytime soon. I did see the play when it was revived on Broadway earlier this year. It got rave reviews but I was disappointed in the actress who played Martha. Elizabeth Taylor’s performance is unforgettable and I think, iconic, like Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski. The playwright, Tracy Letts, played George n Broadway this year. He was so good he won the Tony award for Best Actor. Back to the film version, it was the first feature directed by Mike Nichols. Quite an impressive debut, and then his second was “The Graduate.” That must be on your list.

    • TBM says:

      It would be hard to find an actress who can pull off Martha better then Taylor. And everyone will be compared to Taylor, which would intimidate the heck out of me. I like a good challenge, but that one would be too tough for me. And there’s the problem that I can’t act at all. Seriously, I just freeze.

      Like you, I won’t be watching this movie anytime soon. Once may be enough since I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feelings I felt while watching this car crash.

      And yes, The Graduate is on the list. I think it’s in the top 20 so I have some time before I see it. And I have a confession, I’ve never seen it.

      • Huh, you’ve never seen “The Graduate.” But you’ve read a shedload of books. For me, that’s reversed. I’ve read a few books and have seen several thousand films by now – my record in recent years was 5 in 1 day. This was during a heat wave. I don’t have a/c in my sanctum sanctorum due to wiring tracing back to early 20th century. The multiplex provided refuge but I also wanted to see all those films. One of the perks of being a middle age female is becoming invisible. I blend in with the crowd and could easily slip in from one theater to another sight unseen – all for a before noon price ($6 then) of a ticket to “Brave”.

      • TBM says:

        When I lived in Boston, my buddies and I enjoyed AMC best picture marathons they held right before the Academy Award show. We would watch all five films in one day. The year before I moved we attempted watching all ten of the films in a 24 hour period. We called it quits after six films. I was a little disappointed we didn’t make it through all ten.

      • I space seeing those out better.

      • TBM says:

        I’m horrible at actually getting to the theater in time and movies in London are expensive. I used to live near Notting Hill and there were two theaters that had discount nights and I loved it. Now, I live south of The Thames since it’s cheaper so I’m not near the theaters anymore.

      • You make NYC sound like Bargain Central.

      • TBM says:

        It’s 9 quid for a movie before 5, Monday through Friday. And on Saturday and Sunday it’s 11.80 all day. How much is it there? Then of course I have to add popcorn and a soda.

      • What’s 9 quid in dollars? Films at the AMC in NYC are $8 before noon and around $14 afterward; about $18 for 3D.

      • TBM says:

        9 quid is around 14.50 in US dollars. The nighttime shows or weekend shows are roughly 19 bucks. I didn’t check the prices for 3D since I hate movies in 3D. Gives me a headache.

      • Are you 39 or 89? My older than dirt dad does 3D. He loved “Avatar”.

      • TBM says:

        Ha. Older than dirt. Does he know you call him that? I saw Avatar and that gave me a headache–but it was worth it since the 3D was amazing. However, my buddy, had such a headache after that he had tears in his eyes. He still hasn’t lived that one down. However, I’m not big on making everything 3D. The Great Gatsby? Really?

      • The Great Gatsby was very good. Baz Luhrman is a very talented filmmaker. Oh there’s little I can say or write that would surprise Dear Old Dad.

      • TBM says:

        I really enjoyed the movie, but I saw the 2D version. I did enjoy Moulin Rouge more. Did he do Strictly Ballroom?

      • I don’t eat popcorn nor do I drink soda. Too fattening and it triggers my gastritis. Not good in my effort to bring sexy back.

      • TBM says:

        Do you eat or drink anything when you watch movies? Even during the 5 movie marathon?

      • A bagel and pounded a water.

      • TBM says:

        I like a good bagel. Damn, not I’m craving one.

      • The only ones worth eating are on this side of the pond. Guess you’ll have to make due with crumpets.

      • TBM says:

        There’s a bagel place in Brick Lane that people rave about. Maybe I need to investigate. Brick Lane is in East London and they found one of Jack the Ripper’s victims there. If you like curry, that’s the place to go–Brick Lane, not where they found the body.

      • I hate curry. But Tim Curry is okay.

    • TBM says:

      Yep, that one of his nicknames. His full name is Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), but we call him Att, Attie, and other names depending if he’s been naughty.

  13. Caroline says:

    Now I want to watch this. I read the play but didn’t think it was all that traumatic.

    • TBM says:

      Taylor and Burton made it that way for me. Oh she looks so fierce and the way she yells, it made my skin crawl. And I read she gained 35 pounds to make her look frumpy. At first when she was cast, people didn’t think she could be frumpy enough for the role. She pulled it off.

  14. lynnsbooks says:

    I just really don’t fancy this film! There I’ve said it. It’s out there. I watched a little of it a number of years ago and gave up and frankly I’m not going back to it! Nope.
    Lynn 😀

  15. Sounds…uncomfortable, maybe not in a good way. In a nails on the chalkboard way.
    I can’t wait to find out what the boys think of Raiders!

  16. PS- I saw Gravity recently. Amazing. I don’t use that word lightly.

  17. I must be contrary (ain’t that a shock…). Brilliant film. Real, heartrending and heartbreaking. Extraordinary performances. Every time I see it I curse Liz and Dick for not just shacking up quietly and exploring their talents to the max (ok the talents they would show us, they clearly explored certain talents to the max). American playwrighting has a limited history. We didn’t start to get serious until the early 1910/20s but this is one of the towering masterpieces written in the past 100 years and it got the performances and direction it deserves.
    Ok, off my soapbox now.

    • TBM says:

      I agree with everything you said. It is a wonderful film–it just made me uncomfortable. And I think it was meant to. I would have loved to have lived in NYC during the 20s. I do enjoy reading Dorothy Parker’s reviews that she wrote. She pretty much hated Kate Hepburn. If I was involved in a play during that time and Parker was the reviewer, I would be shaking in my boots.

  18. pattisj says:

    Miles says she gives WOOF a bad name.

  19. Fergiemoto says:

    I’ll go for “Raiders of the Lost Ark”!

  20. poppytump says:

    Time I saw this again I think … it’s been years …. cringy … but always love the Elizabeth T and Richard B combination …
    Raiders YES such a relief I ‘m sure TBM and to your companions there too 🙂

  21. Novroz says:

    I have never heard of this before (I am not a fan of very old movies) but your review totally intrigued me. Maybe I can find it.

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