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3.9
297 Ratings

Vanya on 42nd Street

Directed by Louis Malle
United States, 1994
Comedy, Drama, Romance

Synopsis

In the nineties, André Gregory mounted a series of spare, private performances of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in a crumbling Manhattan playhouse. These treasures of pure theater would have been lost to time had they not been captured on film by Louis Malle.

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Vanya on 42nd Street Directed by Louis Malle
The actors home in on the precise dynamics of how comedy imperceptibly gives way to an inconsolable sadness of being. As Sonya, Brooke Smith’s mixture of humility and abased pride—a saintliness that is both snow-pure and bent on martyrdom with the resolve of a suicide commando—is a performance so exacting it puts the flashy histrionics of most of our big-time Award Winners to shame.
July 05, 2015
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Malle strips the text to its essence, complementing it with an aesthetic that weds roaming camerawork with lush, painterly cinematography that roots the play in an echo chamber of the theatrical past while pushing it up to a meta-textual present that’s governed by an intermingling of actors alternately in and out of their characters. These various jagged contrasts are cumulatively unmooring and emotionally devastating.
June 12, 2015
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When the Skandies crew voted for Best Performance of the ‘90s (gender-neutral) a dozen years ago, Julianne Moore placed 4th…for Safe, in which she’s indeed outstanding. But I cast my own vote for her stunningly unconventional interpretation of Yelena here, which seems every bit as miraculous and ineffable to me now—somehow, she finds a deeper truth in every line by playing radically against whatever emotion the words seem to suggest.
March 08, 2012
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