By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
Based on the acclaimed play by Anton Chekhov, this film features a spectacular cast whose talents are unfortunately wasted on a frustratingly dull adaptation. Though I have not previously read the source material, I feel that better screenwriters and directors could have done much more than the filmmakers behind this snoozer. And despite the earnest performances by the actors, The Seagull just couldn’t compell me to care about most of the characters’ sad lives whatsoever.
Annette Bening stars as Russian actress Irina Arkadina, a socialite who hosts an assortment of friends and family at the country estate of her ailing brother Sorin (Brian Dennehy). The time spent there reveals that several members of the party suffer from unrequited love for some of the other people there. When Irina’s younger lover Boris (Corey Stoll) falls in love with the unhappy girlfriend (Saoirse Ronan) of Irina’s emotional son Konstantin (Billy Howle), the time spent there takes some complicated and awkward turns. Despite the comfortable lives of most of these people, no one there seems to be happy.
With an adapted screenplay by Stephen Karam, director Michael Mayer turns Chekhov’s play into an examination of the lifestyles of the vapid and selfish. I simply could not stand most of the characters of this film. Even thee fact that I personally have had some experience with unrequited love, I simply could not relate with or feel empathy towards most of the people in this work of fiction. The only character for whom I felt some empathy is Nina Zarechnaya, the sweet and good-hearted girlfriend of Konstantin whom I found utterly insufferable.
The cast members perform their hearts out, but even this could foster any feeling of sympathy within me. With the exception of Nina, whose heart and innocence is preyed upon, I feel like most of the characters are victims of their own poor choices. In addition to the actors mentioned above, the movie also stars Elisabeth Moss, Jon Tenney, Mare Winningham, Glenn Fleshler, and Michael Zegen.
And it is a ratber impressive assortment of talent that is assembled for what is a failure in romantic tragedy. It is a film that I must definitely encourage my readers to skip because I feel that as acclaimed a writer as Chekhov is, this is one adaptation that doesn’t live to his stellar reputation. As I watched this film and its characters, I could see a potential greatness get squandered by mediocre storytelling and poor character development.