Directed by Michael Mayer
Out May 11
Anton Chekhov’s 1895 play The Seagull gets a straightforward screen adaptation from director Michael Mayer, known primarily for his theater work (he won a 2007 Tony for Spring Awakening). Though a familiarity with the play helps, even those who’ve never read it will be entertained by the overlapping love triangles enacted by this stellar ensemble cast. Annette Bening plays vain, aging actress Irina, who has taken a younger lover, a famous writer named Boris (Corey Stoll). Irina’s son Konstantin (Billy Howle), an aspiring playwright, is in love with his neighbor, Nina (Saoirse Ronan), but Nina is in love with Boris. To complicate matters further, Irina’s brother’s employee’s daughter Masha (Elisabeth Moss) is in love with Konstantin, but a local schoolteacher (Michael Zegen) is in love with her. And to cap things off, Masha’s mother (Mare Winningham) is having an affair with a doctor (Jon Tenney).
Mayer plays up the humor of Irina’s vanity and of the younger characters’ melodramatic emotions. Konstantin likes to rant about how his mother doesn’t understand his art, and Masha’s habit of dressing in black as “a symbol of mourning for her life” makes her something of a 19th-century Russian goth. An unnecessary flash-forward makes the pace drag, but overall, this is a well-done adaptation of a classic play. 4/5
By Erika W. Smith
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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