Socialist Worker

The Seagull can't rise above period drama convention

by Rena Niamh Smith
Issue No. 2621

Annette Bening plays Irina

Annette Bening plays Irina

Anton Chekov made his name casting a critical eye on the Russian middle class in the twilight years of Tsarist rule.

Michael Mayer’s new film adaptation captures some of the sense of a society in decay, but more through accident than by design.

A slight lack of cohesion puts the film out of joint, but some excellent acting shines through.

The male characters’ lives are full of dreams of fame and great endeavours. The characters’ artistic pretensions are sometimes revealed to be sham.

Annette Bening’s diva Irina loudly complimenting herself everywhere is hilarious.

Yet sometimes the undertones are darker.

For the women, competition for male attention is paramount. People are used and cast aside with hardly a thought.

The Seagull exposes the way, in a society not so unlike our own, that women can be treated as disposable objects.

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