Adapting an iconic Anton Chekhov play is an ambitious if not daunting feat, and thankfully filmmaker Michael Mayer and screenwriter Stephen Karam pull it off with The Seagull.
Annette Bening is Irina, an actress who visits her family’s countryside Russian estate. Corey Stoll plays her lover Boris who is the subject of envy by Irina’s son Konstantin (Billy Howle), Saoirse Ronan co-stars as Nina, a girl with big dreams of fame and fortune. Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale), Brian Dennehy, and Mare Winingham round out the stellar ensemble.
The Seagull, which centers on the tenuous bonds of love, is anchored by a magnetic performance by Bening, as she effectively plays Irina’s many contradictions. Ronan is just as powerful in the film, and her journey from idealist to, ultimately, a resigned adult, is heartbreaking. Cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd, whose work includes the Netflix series Daredevil and Cop Car, also brings a fluid and visually arresting flow to the proceedings, making the project more of film than a constricted stage production.
Special features on the DVD include a 22 minute City Cinemas Q&A with Bening and Mayer and a Tribeca post screening Q&A with the cast, Mayer, and Karam. During the City Cinemas Q&A, Bening admitted she had a crush on Anton Chekhov. Also interesting of note – the picture was actually shot in Monroe, New York (and not in Russia).