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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
It's a frustrating way to have to see Chekhov's excellent play.
Michael Cacoyannis seems strangely reluctant to tell this story in a straightforward, understandable fashion. This ridiculously edited film rates a 7 out of 10 only because it does, in its idiosyncratic way, convey something of the story of a Russian woman, of the landed gentry, fallen on hard times, who is desperately seeking to preserve the ownership of her estate, on which is an ancient and beloved cherry orchard. If she is forced to sell, the orchard will be cut down and the estate "developed" into "affordable housing". So what else is new, eh?
By all, this is the choppiest editing and directing style I have ever encountered. Chekhov's play is certainly not constructed this way. There is no effort to introduce characters in an orderly fashion so that one may get to know who they are, and what their relationships and motivations are. Some of this eventually emerges if you are patient and alert enough, but don't blink! Some of the cast work is excellent. They must have been frustrated, though, if they knew what kind of editing would appear in the final cut.
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