Vanya on 42nd Street
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In the late 1980s, noted theatrical director Andre Gregory assembled a group of friends and actors and began rehearsing a new translation of Anton Chekhov's +Uncle Vanya by David Mamet, not with any specific performance in mind but as a way of exploring the beauty and precise construction of Chekhov's play. Louis Malle, a friend of Gregory's, became interested in the project and spent two weeks filming Gregory's actors as they performed +Uncle Vanya without an audience in a run-down theater near New York's Times Square. In these performances, the line between theater and… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"It's amazing it has taken Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, and director Louis Malle more than 10 years to collaborate again. It was worth the wait, though."
‑ Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"There's more power here than in all the multi-million dollar fireworks of Hollywood."
‑ , Time Out
"... a record of a creative collaboration that has a life of its own, at once documentary, filmed rehearsal, play within a play, and private production restaged for a camera..."
‑ Sean Axmaker, Turner Classic Movies Online
"Not entirely successful, but undeniably brave."
‑ , Film4
"A movie by, about and for actors."
‑ Sarah Chauncey,
"The performances are precise, the language is alive and well spoken and the setting is striking, but Vanya on 42nd Street still suffers rather heavily from the limitations of filmed theater."
‑ Todd McCarthy, Variety
"The elegant understatement of this production turns it into a livelier experiment, a fluent, gripping version of one of Chekhov's more elusive plays."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Reuniting with Andrew Gregory, Louis Malle, in what became his swan song, has made a modern, captivation version of the Chekhov play."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"There are moments of considerable power here but this stripped-down rendering gives us something closer to a latterday dysfunctional family than Chekhov's doomed bourgeoisie."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Despite great acting, the general impression of the film is underwhelming."
‑ Dragan Antulov,
"Malle adeptly eases us into the play so we can't tell at what precise moment Chekhov takes over, an ambiguity that becomes the film's triumph as well as its key limitation."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"This live-wire Vanya, freshly observed for the '90s, is fiercely funny, touching and vital."
‑ Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"The drawback, however, is that the actors chew the scenery in true stagecraft fashion, which, on film, induces regular wincing and a wish that they would hand out the valium and take it easy."
‑ , Empire Magazine
"It offers a unique viewing at a work in progress."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"It's more than a worthy capper to Malle's brilliant career."
‑ Elbert Ventura, PopMatters
More reviews for Vanya on 42nd Street on Rotten Tomatoes