IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #14 – Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

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Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) – IMDB Rank #196

Watched 24/3/13

This is the 14th movie watched this year for my IMDB Top 250 Challenge.

Four of the most unlikeable people you’ll ever meet…

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf is the story of bitter (VERY bitter!) middle-aged married couple Martha & George (played by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton). Martha’s father is the president of the University where George works and the couple have just come home (stumbled home) from a party at his house. Once home, Martha informs George that she’s invited over a young couple from the party – Nick, a good-looking new instructor recently hired at the University & his wife Honey (played by George Segal & Sandy Dennis). Then the all-night crazy mind games ensue…

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I understand why this film is so highly regarded. The acting is top-notch. It still doesn’t make it much fun to watch, though. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I found it pretty gripping while watching it (you just never knew WHAT horrible thing was going to come out of someone’s mouth next -especially Martha’s). But I know it’s one that I’ll never feel the need to watch again. Once you’ve witnessed just how horrible these people can be to each other, there’s really no need to see it again.

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Is it realistic? I don’t know… Maybe there are actually people this intense in real life. Plus I’m sure the excessive amounts of alcohol the characters consumed helped. I’m not going to discuss the plot or certain scenes or give it too much thought. Basically, it’s two married couples who have extreme issues of anger & resentment toward each other (very outwardly obvious with the older couple but more deeply hidden with the younger couple and not fully realised by this younger couple until their night from hell with Martha & George brings everything out into the open).

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It’s a hard movie for me to rate as the acting is excellent, the script is very good, it won 5 Oscars (including best actress & supporting actress for the two women), and it sure as hell is “entertaining” (in the way a horribly gruesome train wreck is, I guess). I can see how it was very controversial for 1966. I suppose, in a way, it reminded me of that Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Clive Owen movie Closer. It’s similar in that it’s four good actors playing four horribly unlikeable characters and it’s very hard to feel sympathy for any of them, even at the end of the movie when George hurts Martha very deeply with a cruel & strange twist. At least in Closer you felt a LITTLE something for Natalie Portman’s character at the end. I suppose you could almost feel some sympathy for the character of Honey, if she wasn’t so damn pathetic.

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So… I guess I recommend this movie if you like the idea of seeing some excellent acting and extremely unsympathetic characters speaking horribly to each other & playing very nasty mind games. It’s not really my type of thing but obviously there are enough people who DO like it, I guess, as it’s in the IMDB Top 250.

My Rating: 7/10 (Hopefully a fair rating – I have to recognise that it’s GOOD but I didn’t LIKE it).

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