I’d like to preface this review by saying that I have never read Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, the play this movie was adapted from – it is incredibly famous and recognized as a masterpiece, but prior to watching this movie I didn’t even know what it was about. I therefore absolutely cannot judge if this movie is a faithful adaptation of the play or not.
Now that this is out of the way, the short version of the plot goes something like this: in Russia, 1904, a group of people spend their week-end at a rich man’s estate, where new love blossom and unrequited feelings abound.
I wish I could keep it as simple, but a more complex description of the plot and characters is preferable, so brace yourself: Irina, Annette Bening (“American Beauty”, “The American President”), a very successful but aging actress, visits, as usual, her brother Sorin, Brian Dennehy (“First Blood”, “Cocoon”), whose health is deteriorating, in his beautiful and large estate.
Her son Konstantin, Billy Howle (“Dunkirk”, “Glue (TV)”) is a wannabe playwright who aims to shatter the conventions of theater; he puts on plays for his family to watch, helped by his lover Nina, Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird“, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”), a wannabe actress.
But when Irina brings with her Boris Trigorin, Corey Stoll (“Black Mass“, “Ant-Man“), her lover and very successful writer, Nina finds herself completely starstruck and both begin to develop feelings for one another. This causes Konstantin and Irina to be jealous, not only of this new love affair but of, respectively, Boris’ success and Nina’s youth.
In the midst of all this, there is Masha, Elisabeth Moss (“The Square“, “Mad To Be Normal“), the gloomy daughter of Sorin’s estate’s manager Shamrayev, Glenn Fleshler (“True Detective (TV)”, “Billions (TV)”) and his wife Polina, Mare Winningham (“Geostorm“, “Philomena”).
Masha is pursued by a schoolteacher named Medvendenko, Michael Zegen (“Frances Ha”, “Boardwalk Empire (TV)”) who she doesn’t care about, having only eyes for Konstantin despite knowing that her love is unrequited.
To add to these complicated relationships, Masha’s mother, Polina, is interested in doctor Dorn, Jon Tenney (“Tombstone”, “Beverly Hills Cop III”) who reciprocates some of her feelings but still isn’t over his past affair with Irina.