Opens: October 17
Genre: Biography/romance
Duration: 110 minutes

The 1920s British socialite Vita Sackville-West is known for her affair with novelist Virginia Woolf – both were married at the time – and for inspiring that writer’s Orlando.

Vita and VirginiaGemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki in Vita and Virginia

In 1992 that novel was turned into a widely acclaimed film by Sally Potter. Some overseas reviewers seem disappointed this new film about the pair’s relationship fails to scale the same fantastical heights or match the more recent Woolf-themed movie The Hours – which strikes this viewer as unfair. All three set about doing quite different things.

For many the film will ultimately succeed or fall on Elizabeth Debicki’s depiction of Woolf as a wanly frail creature, forever on the verge of falling apart. It’s a considerably more extreme interpretation than Nicole Kidman’s Oscar-winning turn as the author in The Hours. Harder to argue with is Gemma Arterton’s fabulously dashing performance as Sackville-West, invariably making a splash with her outgoing personality while dressed in the most glorious fashions of the day. Isabella Rossellini also makes a mark as Lady Sackville, Vita’s imperious mother.