- Marleen Gorris
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Thursday, August 21, 2003
Clarissa Dalloway (Vanessa Redgrave) wakes up one sunny day ready to prepare everything for a party sheís giving that night. Throughout the morning she canít stop thinking about her younger days (played by Natasha McElhone) when she had to choose between a safe marriage to Richard Dalloway (Robert Portal) or a wild adventurous one to Peter Walsh (Alan Cox). Her decision ultimately affected her whole life, and Peterís (Michael Kitchen) sudden return makes her think and reflect upon what she is or could have been.
Mrs. Dalloway was directed by Marleen Gorris, of Antoniaís Line fame, who was able to bring the right tone to a story that isnít about anything else but peopleís feelings. The movie has an European feel to it that works really well. Itís also quite slowly-paced, but it is such a pleasure to watch that you can only thank Gorris for what she did.
Life itself can be quite complicated, and so Clarissa could tell you. The whole gamut of feelings she goes through in a single day are a fascinating reflection of what human nature is all about. The movie is about going back and reflect upon decisions that were made in the past that changed the course of everything. Were they the right decisions? Were they wrong? What couldíve happened if she had opted for a different life? Would she be the same person she is today?
The story is told in flashbacks that are simply delightful. We are able to witness how Clarissa was when she was younger and the times she lived in. Ultimately we return to the 20ís, when Clarissa is giving that famous party that spawns one of the best scenes in the movie when she greets her guests. That party serves as a true catharsis.
If there is one thing I would fault the movie for is the subplot involving Septimus (Rupert Graves), the man with the visions. I know it is central to the overall story, but somehow the movie loses punch when his scenes come in, especially because they apparently have nothing to do with all the other stuff in the movie.
Vanessa Redgrave is radiant as Mrs. Dalloway. She gives a unique performance full of dignity, of life, of joy, of sadness, of confliction. I donít know if it is a coincidence or not, but I found the same traces in Nicole Kidmanís performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Is it that Virginia wrote Mrs. Dalloway as an extension of herself? If that is so, both actresses were able to capture the true spirit of these women on the big screen admirably.
Natasha McElhone, on the other hand, is radiant as young Clarissa. And Alan Cox does a wonderful job as young Peter. I also enjoyed the character of Sally, Clarissaís best friend, who shows some hints of lesbianism while younger and who has a wonderful couple of scenes as her older self.
ďIíll buy the flowers myself.Ē
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Other reviews of Mrs. Dalloway (1997): Groucho