Vita & Virginia (2018)

Biographical romantic drama based on the relationship between writers  Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf (Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth  Debicki) during the 1920s.

The idiosyncratic worlds of artists and aristocracy collide in Vita  & Virginia, which brings into focus the years of friendship, sex,  love and letter writing between two literary powerhouses. Vita  Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) is introduced to the effervescent  Bloomsbury Set, at the heart of which is Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth  Debicki). Their refusal to play by society's rules offers an enticing  escape to socialite and author Vita, who is no stranger to rule-breaking  herself. She is constantly chastised by her overbearing and dismissive  mother, Lady Sackville-West (Isabella Rossellini) and resents the duties  she must undertake for her bisexual, MP husband, Harold Nicolson  (Rupert Penry-Jones). Vita is drawn to the progressive and sexually  liberated group of artists, politicians and authors, intrigued  particularly by the mystery and apparent aloofness of Virginia.

Having  a long-held and deep contempt for the upper classes, Leonard Woolf  (Peter Ferdinando) is suspicious of this socialite's sudden appearance  in their lives but Virginia persuades him that their publishing house,  Hogarth Press, should publish Vita's next book. Something more than a  working relationship blooms between the two women; although each writer  holds the other in high regard and they are celebrated in their own  right, they crave a particular acceptance from each other. Their mutual  admiration, though fast becoming charged with a tension and a passion  which excites them both, is peppered with doubts. Their backgrounds and  sensibilities are so far apart on the social spectrum that their  relationship and even friendship seems doomed. A brief but significant  visit to Vita's ancestral home marks their inescapable differences in  Virginia's mind and it reignites her fear that she cannot love others in  the same way as they do her.

Vita and Harold's marriage of  convenience threatens to crumble as she becomes frustrated and  suffocated by the role of submissive and dutiful wife, distracted by the  exciting opportunities that being Virginia's lover offers. There is  always a sense that Vita is desperate to lift the curtain on the 'real'  Virginia, to reveal the truth behind the myth and Virginia relishes the  challenge, even if she is not always entirely comfortable with it. Their  relationship oscillates, they circle around each other and there are  constant contradictions between what is said and what is meant. It is  when they are separated by Harold's diplomatic responsibilities that the  truth pours out. Their letters are infused with a fierce love and  longing, a desperation to explore and analyse the heart and the mind -  this is where they are most comfortable, each a muse for the other.

Vita  & Virginia offers a glimpse into the complex nature of  relationships and marriages, questioning what it is to be female and  feminine and details the fraught hypocrisies of living in the 1920s.  Punctuating the film is Virginia's well publicised mania, depicted  through visual, imaginative metaphors, a reminder of her vulnerability  that Vita is eager to dispel. Throughout the story, characters struggle  with the unwritten rules of jealousy, revolution, power and the myriad  forms that love takes. It is from one such struggle, after Virginia sees  Vita with another woman, that Orlando: A Biography is born, canonising  Vita forever as Virginia's muse.

The programme starts 30 minutes after doors open and the main feature 60 minutes after doors open.
Doors open:
7pm on Saturday 5th June 2021
Chanya Button
Biography, Drama, Romance
110 mins
Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini
Rusthall Community Cinema, Sunnyside Community Hall, Rusthall Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8RA.