Talented Sam Neill (JURASSIC PARK, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER) stars with sexy Greta Scacchi (PRESUMED INNOCENT, THE PLAYER) in this delightful comedy cheered by critics nationwide! Spring fever runs wild when a snooty nativ... more »e son returns to his hometown -- and brings along his voluptuous new wife (Scacchi). Before long, every man in this tiny town is falling head-over-heels for the charms of this sensuous beauty. But things really heat up when she suddenly finds herself falling in love with the local doctor and resident playboy (Neill). You won't believe all the comic hanky-panky going on behind closed doors in this entertaining treat!« less
"A fine adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya". Set in Australia and quite faithful to the plot. Very well cast (much better than Vanya of 42nd Street adatpted by David Mamet). Even those of you who would prefer an action-packed movie will enjoy this film."
Chekhov's Uncle Vanya set in Maitland, NSW
Felix (Brisbane, Australia) | 10/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Michael Blakemore's Australianised version of 'Uncle Vanya', Chekhov's comedy of frustrated provincial life with its ludicrous but painful self-oppression. It's set in the lovely Hunter Valley of NSW and its verdant pastoral landscape looks gorgeous filmed in saturated painterly colours. The characters are adapted slightly (as is the script) to make the story work for Australia just after the Great War. The cultural moment is the realisation that Australia is going to have to shed its imaginative and political domination by all things English. Blakemore's intelligence and wit and his own keen expatriate's vision are razor-sharp and compassionate. The film analyses the colonial attitudes of his own class and generally charts the fatal inter-locking of provincial insecurity and imperial delusions. Just watch for the hilariously awful sequence starting with a brightly coloured rosella feasting on a flowering tree....
Blakemore himself ended up playing the grand writer (Chekhov's Professor) who (supposedly) Made It in England: he gives a precise comical dissection of self-important fatuity. Greta Scacchi is the Helena figure, his trophy wife who stirs up the male hormones. Sam Neill is the sexy Doctor Astrov character: the region's voice of progress but a cynical and disillusioned individual; and Kerry Fox is Sonya, the put-upon daughter who pines for the Doctor but actually keeps the property running. Watch for a young Tom Long in a small role, and the wonderful Googie Withers as the crafty Irish house-keeper who firmly and wisely rules the estate while dishing up to the grand folk endless mutton meals in every tasteless variation. But the star performance for me is the late John Hargreaves as the Vanya character: his extrovert interpretation has to be a career best.
As an Australian film 'Country Life'does indeed lack all those 'international' local colour staples of man-eating crocs (or toothy sharks, or killer dingos) - not a psychopathic bush murderer or menacing redneck is to be seen! Instead we see a lush landscape with the mansions of the wealthy rural Australian ruling faction of the era. But it's smart, intelligent and no reverently corseted 'period movie. Fans of adapted Chekhov or of any member of Blakemore's uniformly great cast will adore 'Country Life'; which makes the story what Chekhov called it - a comedy.
For a reference point you might like to get hold of the National Theatre video of Chekhov's play in the 1963 production, with the great performer Michael Redgrave at his peak as Vanya and Olivier as the Doctor, plus a flawless cast."
Not Quite Uncle Vanya
Goodbye Cruel World | Under Your Skin | 12/05/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Chekhov's play Uncle Vanya is herein indirectly translated to the big screen and its setting is altered to that of post-World War One Australia in this moderately successful tale of unrequited love, carnal attraction, off-center politics, and the bored desperation that roils behind even the most outwardly contended of lives. While Michael Blakemore's film grabs freely at will a number of lines from Chekhov's play, the overall effect is one of imitation of the Russian master rather than direct tribute to him. Sam Neill plays his role well, as he always does, and the cast meshes nicely, it's just that Country Life might've possessed more gravitas had it been a stand-alone production without the tenuous connections to the Chekhov play."
Not a Comedy at All
Laura Henderson | Manassas, VA | 06/02/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I expected something light and romantic, but with the substance the Australians are known for (Strictly Ballroom, Murial's Wedding, for instance). Tedious, boring, depressing, and in no way funny. Barely watchable despite big stars and good acting."
Chekhov Transposed To The Outback.
rsoonsa | Lake Isabella, California | 08/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The director, Michael Blakemore, takes an artistic gamble by loosely adapting Anton Chekhov's play, Uncle Vanya, to Australia. It works on his terms, with Blakemore doing a fine job as the returning native son. Greta Scacchi, whose effect on the locals as his new and young wife is presented in an effective fashion, also performs well. The direction is somewhat uneven and, as a result, the cast does not achieve an ensemble effect so important for the filmization/adaptation. Sam Neill, as is customary, plays Sam Neill. However, Kerry Fox, a brilliant actress, shines. The production design and costumes are nicely and accurately created. In sum, Blakemore does not attempt to go beyond the perimeter of the original masterwork by Chekhov who, after all, is the originator of the "slice of life" genre.