.

Vanya on 42nd Street

Lynn Cohen, Julianne Moore

Directed by Louis Malle
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
April 18, 2001

Under the direction of Andre Gregory, actors in street clothes gather in a relic of a theater to perform a David Mamet translation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya for a small invited audience. A snob stunt? Try unforgettable; at least it was three years ago when a vivid cast, headed by Wallace Shawn as Vanya, brought the 1899 Russian play a hot-damn urgency.

It shouldn't work as a film. But director Louis Malle, who made spirited cinema of Shawn and Gregory dining out in My Dinner With Andre, rises to the challenge. Vanya is magic. Malle shows us the tumult of Times Square outside the theater, and Mamet hauls that clamoring spirit into his translation. Shawn's bristling Vanya spits contempt at his aging professor brother-in-law (George Gaynes) for marrying the beautiful Yelena (the superb Julianne Moore) and squandering funds from the family estate. Homelessness is a possibility for Vanya and his plain, diligent niece Sonya (Brooke Smith). Shawn and Gaynes tangle to devastating effect. But it's the luminous Smith who pierces the heart. The light fading in Sonya's eyes at rejection from Dr. Astrov (Larry Pine) is also the fading of possibility. But the light doesn't go out. This live-wire Vanya, freshly observed for the '90s, is fiercely funny, touching and vital.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    • Child of God
      star rating
      Well Go USA Entertainment
    • lucy
      star rating
      Universal Pictures
    • star rating
      IFC Films
    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “San Francisco Mabel Joy”

    Mickey Newbury | 1969

    A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com