Unless I am mistaken, there was only one film during the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival I did not review. That film was What’s Wrong with Virginia. I despised the film on most every level, but speaking about it now, and seeing this just released trailer for it, I can tell you right now they aren’t selling the film for what it is. Even the opening scene shown in the trailer is a lie. In the film it doesn’t play as comical as much as it is tragic.
he film will be distributed by eOne Films on May 18 under the title Virginia, which, like the trailer, is an attempt to soften the more tragic elements of the film. To get to that point, here’s the synopsis:
Written and directed by Dustin Lance Black (Milk), Virginia stars Jennifer Connelly in the title role as a beautiful yet unhinged single mother who struggles to raise her son Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson) while dreaming of escaping her small Southern boardwalk town. Her long time affair with the very married, Mormon Sheriff Richard Tipton (Ed Harris) is thrown into question when he decides to run for public office. Things are further complicated when Emmett begins a romantic relationship with Tipton’s daughter (Emma Roberts). Virginia and the town–populated by Amy Madigan, Toby Jones, Yeardley Smith–are full of secrets and everyone knows Virginia can only keep things together for so long. Virginia is a funny, touching drama that looks at the American Dream and what it takes to keep it together.
What’s most interesting is that final sentence, the “funny, touching drama” part because that just isn’t true. So many people walked out of this movie in Toronto, I can’t for the life of me ever suggest anyone see this movie. I know that isn’t a very nuanced or well thought out critique, but I would never dare watch the movie again to give it anything better.
The elements that play in the trailer with the implication they are funny are actually elements of Virginia’s mental decay. The original title was more apt, what is wrong with Virginia? The answer is she’s got problems as does this film… loads of them. You are left to wallow in her misery and declining state and it isn’t fun. Ugh, it makes me sick just thinking about it. Funny and touching, yeah right.