Truth is often stranger than fiction. Though Virginia Woolf’s classic novel Orlando is weird on its own (telling the story of a gender-shifting immortal adventuring through English literary history), it was heavily influenced by the real-life romance between the author and aristocrat Vita Sackville-West. Actresses Elizabeth Debicki and Gemma Arterton play Woolf and Sackville-West in the new film Vita & Virginia, which you can watch an exclusive clip from above.

“Popularity was never a sign of genius,” Vita tells Virginia when asked why her books sell better than the likes of Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, which will one day be taught in schools. But despite the fact that both characters are authors, this scene isn’t so much about words as it is about smoldering gazes and the visual symbolism of a cigarette.

Vita & Virginia hits theaters on Aug. 23, and is available on VOD starting Aug. 30. Watch the exclusive clip above.

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