Movie Review: Sony Pictures Classics' The Seagull

Corey Stoll and Saoirse Ronan in The Seagull

The Seagull
CAST: Annette Benning, Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Elizabeth Moss, Marie Winningham, Jon Tenney, Glenn Fleshler, Michael Zegen, Billy Howle, Brian Dennehy
DIRECTED BY: Michael Mayer
SCREENPLAY BY: Stephen Karam (based on the play by Anton Chekhov)
PRODUCED BY: Robert Salerno, Jay Franke, David Herro
RUN TIME: 99 Minutes
RELEASE DATE: May 25, 2018 (Houston)
One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside. While everyone is caught up in passionately loving someone who loves somebody else, a tragicomedy unfolds about art, fame, human folly, and the eternal desire to live a purposeful life.

The Seagull is one of those small, low fanfare films that will be enjoyed by an arthouse crowd, but not by many others.  While the portrayals of the characters and general acting was superb, the film, as a whole, was lackluster and forgettable.  It was nothing to register the summer movie radar.

The cast was top notch.  With names like Annette Benning, Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Mare Winningham and Brian Dennehy, the cast could act-out dialogue from a phonebook and it would be memorable.  The acting did not disappoint.  The acting was completely engrossing.  Bening (as Irina) is the quintessential aging actress.  She has played the aging actress before and she plays it very well. Ronan (as Nina) is super vulnerable as the wide-eyed starlet hopeful.  Corey Stoll (as Boris) is wonderfully over-dramatic and spineless as the love interest.  Winningham (as Polina) and Dennehy (as Sorin) had smaller, but memorable roles.

The problem with the film seemed to come from the editing.  The film is cut like a series of vignettes.  And while the vignettes are supposed to culminate to depict a “everyone loves someone else” plot, the sketches were not strung together tight enough.  The emotion failed to build.  With a run time of just over ninety minutes, it felt like something was missing.  There were supposed to be some heart string moments along the way, and they seemed lost on the audience.  By the time the real shocker is played out at the end, there seemed to be a collective shrug in the audience.

The Seagull is period piece that felt old and dated. Period pieces can be entertaining by exposing audiences to something out of the usual, but even the camera work of The Seagull seemed to miss the point.  The film is set in the Russian countryside, but the cameras were so focused on close shots of the cast, that the scenery felt wasted.  The costumes appeared cliché.

If it’s all about the acting, or you are a fan of the cast, The Seagull is a fine film.  On all other aspects, it is wanting. Maybe a movie to save for some at home video format.  If you want to catch The Seagull, seek it out at an art house theater near you starting on May 25.

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