Hollywood Seagull (NR)

Drama 95 December 27, 2013
By Ernest Hardy
Putting reflexive snobbery on hold, Hollywood Seagull, adapted by director Michael Guinzburg from Chekhov's landmark play The Seagull and transposed from the theater world of 19th-century Russia to contemporary Hollywood, could work beautifully. The play might seem ripe for updating and a location change, especially as its core concern is the socio-political and philosophical conversations sparked when wire-crossed love affairs meet artistic conflict and struggle (including one actress aging out of market viability as a gorgeous starlet begins her ascent). Alas, alas, and alas again. Guinzburg's retool is full of unintentional humor, high-school-theaterÐlevel acting, and shoddy writing. Travis (Will Poston) is a mediocre filmmaker with pretense of being an art-house spiritualist. His narcissistic, aging actress mother, Irene (Barbara Williams, who gives the only big-league performance in the film), verbally castrates him at every turn while his Russian starlet girlfriend (Lara Romanoff) makes a play for Irene's self-important, philandering film-director boyfriend, Trigger (Jay Laisne.) There's also a subplot of a servant in unrequited love with Travis. None of it works, save for Williams's performance, as the script rushes through its plot (much of which is explained in heavy-handed exposition) at the expense of character depth and development. There's no chemistry between the cast and no emotional resonance or intellectual payoff in the telling. As the third act races to its conclusion, the film delivers one accidental howler after another, none bad enough to be good.
Michael Guinzburg Biff McGuire, Lara Romanoff, Will Poston, Barbara Williams, Jay Laisne Michael Guinzburg, Lara Romanoff, Anton Chekhov


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