For Reel

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
April 3, 2011, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mike Nichols

An astonishing debut from successful theater director Mike Nichols, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was one of the pivotal films that brought an end to the already crippled Production Code. While films released since 1934 had discussed the sanctity of marriage and repeated images of the traditional nuclear family, Edward Albee’s play (adapted by Ernest Lehman) disembowels the fallacies that figures like Joseph I. Breen had championed decades previous. The film is a relentless, grueling watch – each scene is so viscerally thrilling, so emotionally assaultive that one feels the urge to pause halfway through to take a shower. Despite George and Martha’s apparent disdain for one another in the film, one must think that there has to be a love that still exists between them despite the persistence of their sabotage. Their quarrels aren’t mere self-flagellation, but a mutual sadism birthed by the inevitable frustrations of aging and marriage.

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