Sally Potter’s gender-bending, time-traveling costumed fantasy may be a loose adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel about an English nobleman who transmogrifies into a woman, but in the end it’s really more about the mystique of Tilda Swinton. In an aggressively picturesque riot of androgyny stretching from the court of Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 to contemporary times, Swinton’s Orlando struggles to find his (and later her) true nature while modeling elaborate period finery in fairytale locations. A serious spectacle indeed, bolstered by the perfs of Charlotte Valandrey (as a Muscovite princess), John Wood (a clueless archduke), and Billy Zane as Orlando’s soul mate, a flamboyant gothic-romantic hero. Meanwhile Swinton plays the 250-year-old Orlando as an effete man and – her specialty – an imperious woman. It’s her pre-Michael Clayton signature role and adaptor Potter’s high-water mark (93 min.).
Director: Sally Potter
Writer: Sally Potter and Virginia Woolf
Producer: Christopher Sheppard
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Quentin Crisp, Jimmy Somerville, John Bott, Elaine Banham, Anna Farnworth, Sara Mair-Thomas, Anna Healy, Toby Stephens and Dudley Sutton