Adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" set in rural Australia in the 1920's. Jack Dickens and his niece Sally run the family farm to support brother-in-law Alexander as a (supposedly ... See full summary »
Adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" set in rural Australia in the 1920's. Jack Dickens and his niece Sally run the family farm to support brother-in-law Alexander as a (supposedly brilliant) literary critic in London. Action begins when Alexander returns with his beautiful young wife Deborah, revealing himself as an arrogant failure and wanting to sell the farm out from under Jack. Blakemore introduces themes about Australia's separation from England, as well as expanding the pacifist and ecological philosophies espoused by the local Doctor Max Askey. Written by
Usually, I dislike plays adapted to a place & time other than those the author intended. Country Life (the title is from Chekhov's subtitle for Uncle Vanya, Scenes from Country Life) is a rare exception. Placed in the Australian outback in the 1920s, aspects of the play, such as the old man's writings (here, trashy theatre criticism, some of which is quoted) are as worthless as his academic treatises in the play; veneration for London (true in much of Oz, even today) makes clearer the play's characters' veneration for Moscow; etc. Blakemore, a fine stage director, knows his Chekhov, knows how to get the most of his actors (all of whom are excellent) and, to my happy surprise, knows how to make a sparkling, engrossing film from a play by Chekhov, which is very difficult (Mikhalkov is the only other one who has done it, in An Unfinished Piece for Player Piano). A thoroughly delight
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