Film Review: The Seagull

by Michael MayerSony Pictures Classics
reviewed by Bilge Ebiri
Film poster

MICHAEL MAYER’S frantic but atmospheric new film version of the classic play still makes the mistake of so many Anton Chekhov adaptations, which is to deemphasize the comedy. Chekhov was an immensely funny writer, and his uniquely Russian sense of humor is arguably critical to justifying the odd cadences of his plots, which alternate between the languorous and the busy, between aimless circularity and melodrama.

But there’s still plenty to admire here—from Saoirse Ronan’s magnetic performance as an ambitious young actress who is alternately romantic and ruthless, to Corey Stoll’s turn as a middlebrow writer ready to drop everything for the love of a younger woman, to Annette Bening’s portrayal of an aging actress who masks her vulnerability in coolness and sarcasm. One wishes that the film, which clocks in at a brisk 98 minutes, had slowed down and given the actors a bit more space. Even if the complicated brew of emotions cannot always match Chekhov’s, there are still moments of great power here. —BE

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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