Question about Another Remake of Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull”


By Liz Lopez

Rating: C

Why? This is my question – why does someone think that a Russian play, written in 1895 and first performed a year later, should be adapted into an English language film for today’s audiences? I so looked forward to viewing the film starring so many great actresses, starting with Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, and Elisabeth Moss and yet I found myself drawn to multi – task instead of focus on the film story in front of me. This is a great film to view if someone has never seen any of the myriad adaptations of Anton Chekhov’s work into other plays and films – only because of the amazing talent that is cast to perform – but the lackluster story directed by Michael Mayer from the screenplay by Stephen Karam does not keep the audience adequately engaged.  

Matthew J. Lloyd, the cinematographer, is to be credited for many beautiful lakeside scenes, and the several close up shots of the cast that captured the many emotions – either of young love, or unrequited love. Two specific close- up shots that are memorable are from a scene that Nina (Ronan) and actor Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) as celebrated writer Tregorin.

In this story, it appears individuals seem to either be in love with themselves or others who don’t give them the time of day. Irina (Bening) thinks very highly of herself, including that she still has youthful looks to be cast in a play as a teenager. (The look on the female servant’s face as she hears the self-absorbed actress say this out loud is a hoot!)

There are others on the large estate that have unrequited love for one another. Masha (Moss) loves Konstantin (Billy Howle), Irina’s son, who is an aspiring playwright with many issues (jealousy and is suicidal to name two). Konstantin loves Nina (Ronan), a local country girl dreaming of riches and accolades as she will someday be an actress. Nina ends up falling for Tregorin (Stoll), as he is a well known and successful writer. Of course, Tregorin loves the attention of an 18 year old, and he tries to break off his “friends with benefits” relationship with Irina (Bening), but the diva is not going to let go.

Take a chance and spend some movie bucks if you want to, but for this drama, just stay home and find the melodrama on the Lifetime channel, or try the Spanish stations and watch a soap opera known as a “novela” – even if you don’t the language. Same difference – if it is really just the old school drama you seek.

Source: Sony Pictures Classics

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