I am not by any means an expert on Russian theater and so seized the chance to see a film adaptation of Anton Chekov’s acclaimed play The Seagull starring Annette Bening. It was an enjoyable film, but as I watched it I could not help noticing that it conformed to the popular view of Russian plays where no one is happy and everyone complains to one another about their unhappiness.
If you like stories about unrequited love, this is the film for you. The schoolteacher Medvedenko is in love with Masha (the daughter of the estate manager) who is in love with Konstantin (the son of the famous actress Irina who is the owner of the estate) who is in love with Nina (who lives on a neighboring estate) who is in love with the famous writer Boris who is Irina’s lover. Meanwhile Ilya (the manager of the estate) is in love with his wife Polina who is in love with Dom (the local doctor) who is in love with Irina who is in love with Boris. Boris vacillates between Irina and Nina.
The only character not suffering from unrequited love is Sorin (Irina’s brother) but he is miserable for other reasons.
Here’s the trailer.
Watching the film, I was reminded of this scene from the Woody Allen parody of Russian literature Love and Death (1975) that may well have been inspired by this particular play.