Review: Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

This collaboration between Lois Malle, Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, and David Mamet (one of my favorites) is a visceral and relevant look at Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Filmed on-stage during rehearsals, the film bypasses sets, costumes and makeup, reducing Vanya to its bare essentials: loneliness, wasted lives, and unreciprocated love. Wallace Shawn gives an especially riveting performance as the loathsome uncle Vanya; a performance that makes Vanya truly deplorable – perhaps exactly what Chekhov intended.

Overall, “Vanya on 42nd Street” is a visceral performance that stirs the emotions rather then the mind. Clever cutting and intermissions leave much of the set design to the imagination. I felt like I was watching a play on TV. But in a very very good way.

Beauty should be pure. Of face, of dress, of the mind.
What attracts me? Beauty attracts me.