Madame Ranevskaya (Rampling) is a spoiled aging aristocratic lady, who returns from a trip to Paris to face the loss of her magnificent Cherry Orchard estate after a default on the mortgage...
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Madame Ranevskaya is a spoiled aging aristocratic lady, who returns from a trip to Paris to face the loss of her magnificent Cherry Orchard estate after a default on the mortgage. In denial... See full summary »
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Madame Ranevskaya (Rampling) is a spoiled aging aristocratic lady, who returns from a trip to Paris to face the loss of her magnificent Cherry Orchard estate after a default on the mortgage. In denial, she continues living in the past, deluding herself and her family, while the beautiful cherry trees are being axed down by the re-possessor Lopakhin (Teale), her former serf, who has his own agenda. Written by
Cacoyannis began his career filming Greek tragedies five decades ago. Anyone seeing his production of Chekhov's wonderful play knows he adores this work: the discerning casting, the use of Tchaikovsky's little-known piano pieces. Best of all is the look of the production-- its costuming and lighting have the quality of delicate homage. Watch for scenes like the arrival of auction-bidders in a muddy street midway through the film-- a bit of period recreation on a par with Coppola and Scorsese. Chekhov's brilliant bits of stage-business are treasured here: Varya's clobbering her wished-for fiance with a door-slam, Epikhodov's goofs, Yasha's mother-problem, and especially the family's sitting gravely down together before their dispersal. These are lovingly done, and if citing them here is meaningless to those who haven't read the play, I'm afraid the film will mean as little to them, especially on videotape, where the exquisite visuals won't count for much. The acting can't sustain novices-- the cast, especially the males, show the effects of limited rehearsal time, sliding in and out of cohesion. The exceptions to that are Katrin Cartlidge (in a role that often stands-out in stage productions), Ian McNeice, and Michael Gough, delivering the finest performance I have seen from his 50+ years of movie-acting-- acting-teachers should march students to see CHERRY ORCHARD to hear how Gough reads a choice line like, "Now I can die." Cacoyannis nodded in spots: the weird accents affected by the lower-class characters add nothing, and the hammy Act II beggar-- one wants to thrash him. This is not a great film. But the play it serves may be the past century's greatest. At a time when American theaters cannot afford large-cast period plays, a Chekhov-fan feels special gratitude for this production.
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