The Seagull

The Chekhov play, about a bourgeois Russian family after the turn of the 20th century, gets a distinctly cinematic treatment, designed to support big, splashy performances from Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, and Elisabeth Moss. Screenwriter Stephen Karam and director Michael Mayer work overtime to vary the scenery, moving the various encounters out of the family’s country home and onto the grounds, and sound editor Benjamin Cheah uses all the latest tricks (noise levels jumping between scenes, dialogue fading out mid-sentence) to give the action a modern feel. Combine all this with the translation into English and you may wonder how much of Chekhov remains, but the outlines of the story are still in place and Bening, who has developed into an acting bird of Streep-like plumage, enjoys herself enormously as Arkadina, the vain but fading theater star. With Brian Dennehy, Corey Stoll, and Mare Winningham.