THE SEAGULL — Review by Susan Granger

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Tony Award-winning theater director Michael Mayer’s (“Spring Awakening”) film adaptation of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov’s classic 1896 play focuses on the summer residents of an idyllic, lakeside estate, located about 50 miles from Moscow. Continue reading…

Annette Bening dazzles as Irina Arkadina, the aging actress, a narcissistic diva who arrives at the country ‘dasha’ of her elderly, ailing brother Sorin (Brian Dennehy), toting along the celebrated short-story writer Boris Trigorin (Corey Stoll), who loves to go fishing.

Meanwhile, the hapless schoolteacher Medvedenko (Michael Zegren) pursues the estate manager’s daughter Masha (Elisabeth Moss), an aspiring actress who is in love with the penniless, young playwright Konstantin Treplev (Billy Howle), who desires manipulative Nina Zarechnaya (Saoirse Ronan), a teenage neighbor who fancies Tregorin, who is ostensibly sleeping with Treplev’s elitist mother. Got that?

Plus, there’s Masha’s mother, Paulina Andreyvna (Mare Winningham), and Dr. Dorn (Jon Tenney), who has known these people for many years and serves as a compassionate observer.

Not surprisingly, a melancholy mood reigns supreme, while much vodka is consumed. Plus, there’s a failed suicide attempt and a seagull crashes to earth.

The script by Tony Award-winning playwright Stephen Karam (“The Humans”) re-arranges some pivotal Chekhov dialogue, diluting and distracting from some of the narrative’s comedic impact, while upping the pace and increasing the tension, which is complemented by the musical score by Nico Muhly and Anton Sanko.

Utilizing natural light, Matthew J. Lloyd’s cinematography is stunning, highlighting Jane Musky’s detailed production design and Ann Roth’s authentic period costumes.

FYI: Esteemed director Sidney Lumet didn’t fare as well with his 1968 screen version, starring Simone Signoret, James Mason and Vanessa Redgrave.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Seagull” is a sultry, sensual 6 – memorable mainly for the superb performances.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.