It's not about the money or the praise.
Konstantin (Billy Howle) is an aspiring writer who cannot please his actress mother, Irina. (Annette Bening) They're visiting his uncle, Sorin (Brian Dennehy) in his country side home in early 20th century Russia. Konstantin attempts to impress Nina (Saoirse Ronan) but she finds herself infatuated with Irina's boyfriend, Boris. (Corey Stall) Meanwhile Masha (Elisabeth Moss) pines for Konstantin while ignoring Mikhail (Michael Zegan) who is obviously in love with her.
This film commits the same crime as Valkyrie in which it has characters living in Europe but speaking with American accents. That's such an awful choice. If you're not going to have your actors speak with the actual accent, at least let them use one from the same continent. Billy Howle's English accent is already bleeding through his performance anyways.
Unfortunately it's all downhill from there. Despite a talented bunch of actors the film is directed very poorly. If you thought Tom Hooper used too many close up shots in Les Miserables, wait until you see what director Michael Mayer does here. He gets so close to Corey Stoll's face at one point I actually leaned back. Ronan, Bening, and Moss are all very good, but unfortunately they lack chemistry with the men they're playing opposite against. Our lead, Howle is also very clearly more of a stage actor and even though this is based on a play it doesn't translate well to screen.
While there's some solid performances, a nice score and beautiful costumes and sets, everything else is so amateurishly thrown together it brings it all down. I've never read Anton Chekov's play this is based on. I'm not sure how it compares.
Memorable Quote: "I still love him." - Nina (Saoirse Ronan)