How it’s New York: Part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City
How it’s Irish: Irish actor, Saoirse Ronan, stars.
There’s something about Chekhov that are usually leave the theater vowing never to see another play of his. Even seeing Cate Blanchett and Mikhail Baryshnikov in Uncle Vanya a couple of years ago were not enough to deter me from this view. However a movie version of The Seagull premiered at Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday has eased some of my chekhovian biases. Directed by Tony award winner, Michael Mayer, with an all-star cast including Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, and Brian Dennehy, Chekhov’s dark themes, while finally realized, are painted with a lighter stroke than I’ve seen before.
Unrequited love and narcissism take the foreground in this beautiful period piece set in a spacious and picturesque backdrop (filmed in Monroe, NY). An aging actress, Irina (Bening) and an ambitious ingénue, Nina (Ronan) love the same man, Boris Trigorin (Corey Stoll ). Irina’s son, Constantin (Billy Howle) loves Nina, Masha (Elizabeth Moss) loves Constantin. A summer in a country house is the location for the simmering passions and eventual out flowing of tensions.
Ronan continues her body of work of complex and powerful, yet brimming with innocence, coming of age performances, perfectly encapsulating that innocence just as it’s about to be transformed.
Bening, Ronan and Moss are, as always, worth paying to see in anything they grace our screens with their presence in. Bening plays Irina’s narcissist with a deft touch, the self centeredness seemingly unbeknownst to the protagonist causing repeated waves of laughter in the theater. Ronan continues her body of work of complex and powerful, yet brimming with innocence, coming of age performances, perfectly encapsulating that innocence just as it’s about to be transformed. Moss plays depressed, vodka swilling Masha to great comedic effect and though it is hard to accept her in a period piece ( Madmen’s 50’s and 60’s is as historic as I’ve seen her in), by the third act, I was won over.
Dreamy dresses full of lace and brocades designed by Oscar® winning Costume Designer Ann Roth provide an additional layer to ensconce the viewer in the nineteenth century.
All the cast bar Moss showed up for the talkback after the movie. Dennehy plonked himself front and center on a directors chair saying he needed to rest his Irish ass. When asked why a particular speech had been left out of the production, Mayer was rather snippy and suggested the questioner put it in his version of the piece when he made it. Perhaps he had been out too late at The Hub the night before, who knows?!
The festival continues until April 29th. Check out some of the great offerings including free movies all day Friday courtesy of AT&T.