A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.
The main thing I have to say about Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is that it’s a lot to take in. By the time the film ends, you’re astonished by the kind of people these characters are. Every one of them has troubles, and I think it’s fair to say that there is no good or bad guy in this film, just a lot of real messed up people.
The performances of every actor in this film were amazing. First and foremost, you have Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton playing Martha and George, the “bitter, aging couple” as mentioned above. It’s no surprise that they had such electric chemistry, and you can see that in this film. George Segal and Sandy Dennis played the young couple, Nick and Honey. Both were phenomenal, in particular, Sandy Dennis. She’s helpless most of the time and she portrays it so well.
This was director Mike Nichol’s first film and it’s a damn solid one. He uses the camera to his advantage when arguments are taking place, to help create more confusion that is already present. The script was adapted by Ernest Lehman from Edward Albee’s play of the same name. Now, I have never seen the play, so I can’t really comment on the adaptation of it from stage to screen. What I will say, though, is that the dialogue is fantastically quick.
Okay. I want to address this fictional child. Martha mentions to Honey early on in the film, that her and George have a young boy, whose 16th birthday is the following day. Now, throughout the film, we wonder about this child. In the end, it turns out that the child is fictional. It was a child made up by George and Martha when they had first discovered that they could not have children. The only rule they had about this fictional child was to never mention it to anybody else. It was just another game in their marriage, ultimately, which is heartbreaking. And, George “killing” the child, is the final nail in the coffin that is their broken marriage. Nothing was really holding them together. They don’t seem to have anything in common. In fact, they seem to hate each other nearly the whole time. This child, who may have blue eyes or may have green eyes, is the one bond that they still had. And George killed him, effectively ending their “game”. Instances like this, where we don’t know what’s reality and what’s illusion are shown throughout the film, pretty much when it comes to the things George and Martha say about each other. Honestly, I don’t think they even know the truth by the end of it.
This is a solid film. Based on the acting alone, it’s clear why this film is on this list, landing at number sixty-seven. Have you seen this film? What do you think? I’d love to know.