Based on the Anton Chekov play of the same name, The Seagull is a drama about love, expectations and realizing your potential. Set in the late 1800s, the story follows Irina (Annette Bening), an actress who takes a summer trip to the estate of her brother Sorin (Brian Dennehy), where her son Konstantin (Billy Howie) is also staying. With her she brings an author named Trigorin (Corey Stoll), a decision that has ramifications for everyone.
Nina (Saoirse Ronan), who lives on the estate next to Sorin’s, falls in love with Trigorin. But Konstanin is in love with Nina. Irina has been having an affair with Trigorin herself. Also getting involved with the complicated interminglings is Masha (Elisabeth Moss), who has held an unrequited love for Konstantin herself. So the stage is set for all sorts of heartbreak and problems as the upper crust of society deals lightly with love and other emotions.
There’s not much to the one poster for the movie, which places a literal seagull in the middle of the design for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. The best explanation may be that trying to prioritize the cast, which is shown in smaller headshots along the bottom of the poster, was going to be too difficult.
The trailer presents the movie as a relationship drama steeped in class warfare. Nina and Konstantin are obviously madly in love but society’s expectations don’t seem to be aligned with their mutual interest. The presence of Trigorin and the machinations of Irina complicate matters by presenting a suitor more appropriate than the humble young man from the neighboring estate. Everyone is dealing in manners and rules while trying to both suppress and express their true feelings and emotions, which come bubbling to the surface regardless.
The movie itself looks plenty interesting and it’s hard to argue with the cast. The trailer is cut, though, a bit oddly and doesn’t really flow in a coherent narrative, which is a bit of a problem. More of a problem is the criminal underuse of Elizabeth Moss, who looks like a caustic wit that will just throw grenades in the story from time to time and that’s what I *really* want to watch.
Online and Social
The single-page website has some basic information about the film, including a “Synopsis,” cast list and more. There’s nothing to keep you on the site or really engage your interest and, notably, nothing that offers further information about where and when you can actually see the film.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
No paid efforts I’ve seen or am aware of.
Media and Publicity
A handful of stills along with the first trailer debuted at EW along with comments from director Michael Mayer about the story, working with this group of actors and more. The movie was later announced as one of those scheduled to screen at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the cast talked about working with a Chekhov story and each other. An interview with Mayer in EW’s summer movie preview issue allowed him to talk about casting Benning and why she was his first and last choice for the role. There were other mini-features on Bening, Ronan and others as well along the way.
This looks fine and may well be worthy of the positive buzz that’s built up around it as a result of the festival and other screenings. But there’s a spark missing from the campaign that seems significant. The trailer never really pops with the power of the words and the poster looks like every third Miramax ensemble drama from the mid-90s on. Nothing particularly wrong here, just nothing that really helps the campaign stand out, likely an indication of a belief it’s not going to bring in a lot of converts.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.