Friday, November 13, 2015

At the Movies: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

At the Movies with Michael5000

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Mike Nichols, 1966.

imbd: 8.1 (imdb 250: #234)
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Fresh

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is of course adapted from the well-known play by Edward Albee, and although it has an active camera that gets up close and personal with the characters and their household things, it definitely retains its theatrical feel. The setting is an afterparty on a college campus in the 1960s. Well after the good townsfolk have drifted off to sleep, a jaded middle-aged professor and his jaded middle-aged faculty wife host an apparently fresh young professor and his apparently fresh young faculty wife for a late, late night of abrasive conversation and astonishing alcohol consumption.

There is a big psychological revelation in WAoVW that would definitely be a spoiler to anyone who has not seen the movie or play. It is… well, let’s not mince words, it’s really kind of dumb. But even before we get there, I was having trouble buying the story on plausibility grounds. It’s hard for me to imagine people being quite so aggressively rude when hosting new acquaintances in their middle-class American home, and the new acquaintances sitting back and taking it. But then, of course, I don’t suppose I’ve ever been quite that drunk.

So, it’s an unlikely drama, hinging on a dumb plot device, and it’s about a quartet of people who turn out to be, each in their own way, fairly unpleasant people. This is not a great recipe for entertainment! And yet, I was kind of riveted. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next! And for all that the characters were mean, self-involved, and unhappy, the actors were also able to communicate their virtues and charm. You can tell that you would probably like them and respect them, once they sobered up. Against odds, this is a very entertaining film.

Michael5000's imdb rating: 8.

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