Review: The Sisters

The film is ham-fisted, maddeningly overwritten, and about as subtle as a jackhammer.

The Sisters
Photo: Arclight Films

Chekhov’s Three Sisters can hold its own with the best of Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, O’Neill, and Williams—it’s a subtle, magical play stuffed with great parts for actors. By contrast, Richard Alfieri’s modern take-off on Chekhov’s material, The Sisters, is ham-fisted, maddeningly overwritten, and about as subtle as a jackhammer. It’s a dreadful play that has been made into what looks like a bad television production. The cast includes several unexciting players who have slipped out of our collective consciousness (Chris O’ Donnell, Mary Stuart Masterson, Tony Goldwyn) and a shrieking sitcom actor who seems to be waiting for a laugh track after he delivers every line (Eric McCormack). The seemingly ageless Rip Torn watches over this misbegotten production like a hawk, and poor, beautiful blond Maria Bello struggles yet again to make grindingly improbable dialogue work. While I longed for Chekhov’s original play as his sisters longed for Moscow, a more pressing concern was the continuing waste of the promising Bello, a grievous cinematic problem that needs to be rectified as soon as possible, preferably by David Lynch.

 Cast: Maria Bello, Rip Torn, Mary Stuart Masterson, Chris O'Donnell, Tony Goldwyn, Erika Christensen  Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman  Screenwriter: Richard Alfieri  Distributor: Arclight Films  Running Time: 113 min  Rating: R  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Dan Callahan

Dan Callahan’s books include The Camera Lies: Acting for Hitchcock , Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman, and Vanessa: The Life of Vanessa Redgrave. He has written about film for Sight & Sound, Film Comment, Nylon, The Village Voice, and more.

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